Two decades ago, Iran started distributing free condoms and subsidizing men's sterilization. Now, it's looking to do quite the opposite: The country's parliament is considering a ban on vasectomies, along with a crackdown on contraception and abortion services. The goal: increasing the country's population, the Guardian reports. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wants to see the population double to 150 million, has said his nation's current contraception policy mimics the West.
"If we move forward like this, we will be a country of elderly people in a not too distant future," he said last year. His support means the measures, which parliament this week voted to consider, are likely to become law, the Guardian notes. But some 70% of Iranians are younger than 35, and an AIDS activist says contraception doesn't explain the current slow birthrate. "They are not able to procreate because social, economic problems are stopping them from marriage," Kamiar Alaei says. "The blame should be on those problems, not a policy that has worked quite well." Changing the rules could lead to increased deaths in childbirth, he says. The birthrate in 2011 was 1.3%, among the region's lowest, the Daily Mail adds. (Read more Iran stories.)