Iranian law to boost population takes effect; UN experts warn it will limit women’s rights

TEHRAN, Iran — A law aimed at boosting Iran’s population comes into force today after concerns were raised that it would limit women’s access to reproductive healthcare.

The “Youthful Population and Protection of the Family” legislation was approved by parliament in October and entered into effect by notification from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The law renders reproductive screening optional, imposes restrictions on abortion and limits access to contraception, while providing added benefits to families with more children.

It also tasks public broadcasters with producing content that encourages women to have more children and denounces celibacy or abortion.

About 46.6 percent of Iran’s population of 83 million is under 30 years old, according to the latest data published in 2019 by the national statistics office.

The population under 30 has dropped since 2010, however, at a negative rate of 3.24 percent.

According to the World Bank, Iran’s population growth rate has sharply declined from over four percent in the early 1980s to 1.29 percent in 2020.

The law has been criticized by United Nations experts, as well as by women’s rights activists and other rights groups.

“The consequences of this law will be crippling for women and girls’ right to health,” the UN experts say in a statement today.

They add that it “represents an alarming and regressive U-turn by a government that had been praised for progress on the right to health.”

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