Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said efforts to increase the country’s population are among the Islamic Republic’s most urgent duties and core policies.
In a message to the National Population Task Force on Wednesday, Khamenei appreciated the efforts of officials active in the area of population growth as well as the government and lawmakers in parliament.
He warned of the “dangers of an aging population” and called for action to raise birth rates.
“This is a vital policy for the long-term future of our dear country,” Khamenei said, saying scientific research has proven that all possible harms of this policy can be avoided. He also called for more legal and cultural efforts aimed at increasing the population.
Khamenei’s remarks come as tens of millions of Iranians have been pushed into poverty over the past decade due to an inefficient economy, weak growth and foreign sanctions. The government raised basic food prices earlier this month, adding to existing inflation.
Parliament passed a law prohibiting tubectomy, vasectomy and the free distribution of contraceptives except in cases where a pregnancy would threaten a woman’s health. The Ministry of Health has advised women over 35 to wait only one year before becoming pregnant again and those under 35 to wait six months.
Medical experts have warned that the new legislation would increase sexually transmitted diseases by restricting access to condoms.
The law requires the government to provide incentives, including a 7.5-fold increase in child allowances paid to state employees, interest-free loans and other benefits. Although the new law does not ban prenatal screening, doctors have been advised not to encourage it.