- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Iran lawmakers say population levels are dropping — and to reverse that, they want to ban vasectomies and scale back abortions.

They’re mulling new measures now that would punish those who encourage contraception, or who perform vasectomies, The Guardian reported.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been critical of the nation’s open door to contraception for years, saying allowing women to abort and men to sterilize is too Western and that it would lead to a dwindled population level in the nation.

As recently as October, he said to the government-run Fars news agency: “We will be a country of elderly people in a not-too-distant future. Why do some [couples] prefer to have one … or two children? Why do men or women avoid having children through different means? The reasons need to be studied. We are now a country of 75 million, we have [the ability] to become at least 150 million people, if not more.”

That wasn’t the first time the ayatollah’s called for more procreation. In prior speeches, he’s actually ignited lawmakers to action and led them to scale back subsidies for male sterilization procedures.

Meanwhile, not all see Iran’s newest crackdown on contraception as a real solution to the nation’s lagging population numbers.

Kamiar Alaei, a Harvard University graduate who’s been jailed in Iran for pushing treatments for AIDS, said lawmakers should not blot out abortions and vasectomies because that doesn’t address any root issues.

“More than half of the population consists of young people between the age of 20 and 30 … but they are not able to procreate because social, economic problems are stopping them from marriage,” Mr. Alaei said, The Guardian reported. “The blame should be on these problems, not a policy that has worked quite well.”

The Guardian reported that about 70 percent of Iran’s population are younger than 35.