The Iranian Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the free distribution and subsidized sale of contraceptive items amid a public row over the newly-adopted Law on Family Protection and Youth.
Guidelines issued on Monday by the watchdog’s director-general of controlled drugs, Hamid Reza Inanloo, stated that staff at Ministry of Health-affiliated hospitals across the country are forbidden from giving out contraceptives for free, or encouraging patients to use them.
The guidelines are part of the new Law on Family Protection and Youth, which was finally approved by the Guardian Council last November.
The law includes multiple radical, potentially dangerous provisions that critics say will only increase the number of Iranians turning to illegal abortions. Article 51 prohibits the promotion and free distribution of contraceptives in healthcare settings, while Article 52 bans even the voluntary sterilization of men and women in Iran.
Article 53 of the same law states that a failure to refer a pregnant woman for screening for fetal abnormalities, either by a physician or by other healthcare workers, will not be considered an offence and will not be prosecuted.
The law also allows for data on all patients’ fertility, pregnancy and abortion histories to be recorded and shared between all Iranian medical institutions, public and private. It also stipulates that a new “abortion council” featuring at least three “mujtahid jurists” be set up with the express purpose of monitoring and controlling abortion. The Ministry of Intelligence, and other agencies such as the Passive Defense Organization, are newly obliged to treat infertility as a security issue.