Is abortion legal in Iran?
- The Islamic Republic State declared abortions illegal since 1979 with the only exception being to save the life of a woman. However, in 2005, the Parliament of Iran passed a measure allowing abortions within the first four months of pregnancy in cases of foetal impairment that would result in economic burden. According to the law, the woman’s consent is sufficient to carry out the abortion but three specialists must confirm that the foetus is disabled or the mother has a life-threatening condition. Under the Penal Code of 1991, which is based on Islamic law, abortion for any other reason is categorized as a lesser crime involving bodily injury (oisas), which is punishable by the payment of blood money or compensation (diyah). Statistics from Iran’s Legal Medicine Office showed that out of 6,656 petitions seeking permission to have an abortion last year about 4,000 were approved. The number of requests made and permits granted increased by 17.9% and 14.3%, respectively, compared to the same period last year.
- Iran has had a comprehensive and effective family planning program since the beginning of the 1990s. While Iran’s population grew at a rate of more than 3% per year between 1956 and 1986, the growth rate began to decline in the late 1980s and early 1990s after the government initiated a major population control program. By 2007, the growth rate had declined to 0.7 percent per year with a birth rate of 17 per 1,000 persons and a death rate of 6 per 1,000. Reports by the UN show birth control policies in Iran to be effective with the country topping the list of greatest fertility decreases. In late July 2012, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic described Iran’s contraceptive services as a “wrong“ policy. As of 2014, measures to reverse the declining birth rate include: cutting budgets for subsidized condoms and family planning; increasing already generous paternity and maternity leave; and seeking to enact a bill that would criminalize vasectomies and tubal ligations, which were free of charge until 2012. If the bill passes, those procedures will be punishable by a jail term of up to five years and payment of blood money.