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Iran seeking ban on vasectomies to increase birthrate

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Iraqi women walk past a poster depicting images of Shi'ite Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at al-Firdous Square in Baghdad February 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Ahmed Saad)

In an attempt to increase the country’s birthrate, Iran’s parliament – the Majlis –  is trying to ban vasectomies and tighten abortion rules, The Guardian reported.

The discussion by the conservative-dominated parliament comes after the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the country’s existing policies on contraception last year. Khamenei urged the government to address what he believes is an aging population— and to make efforts to double the population from 77 million to at least 150 million.

The current proposals before parliament suggest a ban on vasectomies and punishment for those encouraging contraceptive services and abortions – a departure from Iran’s progressive laws of the 1990s, which included subsidized vasectomies and free condoms.

"If we move forward like this, we will be a country of elderly people in a not too distant future," Khamenei said in October, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. "Why do some [couples] prefer to have one … or two children? Why do men or women avoid having children through different means?”

About 70 percent of Iran’s population are under age 35.

According to The Guardian, Iran holds relatively progressive views on issues such as fertility treatment, stem cells, surrogacy, sex-change operations and contraceptive services— most of which are heavily government subsidized.

Click for more from The Guardian.