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Iran's New Population Law Violates Women's Rights, HRW Warns


By adding to existing limits on access to contraception and abortion, the legislation violates women's rights to sexual and reproductive health and puts women's health and lives at risk, according to the New York-based human rights watchdog.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Iran to repeal provisions of a new legislation that it says undermine women's rights, dignity, and health, denying them access to reproductive health care and information.

"Iranian legislators are avoiding addressing Iranians' many serious problems, including government incompetence, corruption, and repression, and instead are attacking women's fundamental rights," Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at HRW, said in a statement on November 10.

First approved by parliament in March, the "rejuvenation of the population and support of family" bill was backed by Iran's Guardians Council on November 1.

It is set to become law when it is signed and published in the official gazette, which HRW said is expected within the next month.

The legislation bans sterilization and free distribution of contraceptives in the public health-care system unless a pregnancy threatens a woman's health.

Several articles also "further limit already restricted access to safe abortion," HRW said.

By adding to existing limits on access to contraception and abortion, the legislation violates women's rights to sexual and reproductive health and puts women's health and lives at risk, according to the New York-based human rights watchdog.

Currently, abortion can be legally performed in Iran during the first four months of pregnancy if three doctors agree that a pregnancy threatens a woman's life or the fetus has severe physical or mental disabilities that would create extreme hardship for the mother.

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