World

Myanmar's president signs controversial population law over objections by US, rights groups

  • FILE - In this Thursday, May 21, 2015 file photo, Myanmar President Thein Sein, right, shakes hands with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he presents gift during their meeting at Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Thein Sein has signed off on a law requiring some mothers to space their children three years apart despite objections by Blinken and rights activists, who worry it could be used not only to repress women, but also religious and ethnic minorities. The Population Control Health Care Bill - drafted under pressure from hard-line Buddhist monks with a staunchly anti-Muslim agenda - was passed by parliamentarians last month. (AP Photo/File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, May 21, 2015 file photo, Myanmar President Thein Sein, right, shakes hands with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he presents gift during their meeting at Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. Thein Sein has signed off on a law requiring some mothers to space their children three years apart despite objections by Blinken and rights activists, who worry it could be used not only to repress women, but also religious and ethnic minorities. The Population Control Health Care Bill - drafted under pressure from hard-line Buddhist monks with a staunchly anti-Muslim agenda - was passed by parliamentarians last month. (AP Photo/File)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ethnic Rohingya women and children gather to receive meal at a temporary shelter in Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia, Saturday, May 23, 2015. Myanmar's president has signed off on a law requiring some mothers to space their children three years apart despite objections by a visiting senior U.S. diplomat and rights activists, who worry it could be used not only to repress women, but also religious and ethnic minorities. As predominantly Buddhist Myanmar started moving from dictatorship to democracy four years ago, newfound freedoms of expression lifted the lid on deep-seeded hatred for minority Muslims - including Rohingya Muslims now arriving on Southeast Asian shores in crowded, rickety boats. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

    Ethnic Rohingya women and children gather to receive meal at a temporary shelter in Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia, Saturday, May 23, 2015. Myanmar's president has signed off on a law requiring some mothers to space their children three years apart despite objections by a visiting senior U.S. diplomat and rights activists, who worry it could be used not only to repress women, but also religious and ethnic minorities. As predominantly Buddhist Myanmar started moving from dictatorship to democracy four years ago, newfound freedoms of expression lifted the lid on deep-seeded hatred for minority Muslims - including Rohingya Muslims now arriving on Southeast Asian shores in crowded, rickety boats. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ethnic Rohingya children eat food at a temporary shelter in Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia Saturday, May 23, 2015. Myanmar's president has signed off on a law requiring some mothers to space their children three years apart despite objections by a visiting senior U.S. diplomat and rights activists, who worry it could be used not only to repress women, but also religious and ethnic minorities. As predominantly Buddhist Myanmar started moving from dictatorship to democracy four years ago, newfound freedoms of expression lifted the lid on deep-seeded hatred for minority Muslims - including Rohingya Muslims now arriving on Southeast Asian shores in crowded, rickety boats. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

    Ethnic Rohingya children eat food at a temporary shelter in Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia Saturday, May 23, 2015. Myanmar's president has signed off on a law requiring some mothers to space their children three years apart despite objections by a visiting senior U.S. diplomat and rights activists, who worry it could be used not only to repress women, but also religious and ethnic minorities. As predominantly Buddhist Myanmar started moving from dictatorship to democracy four years ago, newfound freedoms of expression lifted the lid on deep-seeded hatred for minority Muslims - including Rohingya Muslims now arriving on Southeast Asian shores in crowded, rickety boats. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)  (The Associated Press)

Myanmar's president has signed off on a controversial law requiring some mothers to space their children three years apart. Critics warn it could be used to repress not only women, but religious and ethnic minorities.

The Population Control Health Care Bill — drafted under pressure from hard-line Buddhist monks with a staunchly anti-Muslim agenda — was passed by parliamentarians last month.

It is part of a package of four laws that the U.S. and others have said could fan the flames of intolerance in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 50 million that is already grappling with sectarian violence.

The law gives regional authorities the power to implement birth-spacing guidelines in areas with high population growth rates.