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Khamenei on Population Control: 'May God and History Forgive Us'

Ayatollah Khamenei has done something unusual, writes Arash Karami: He admitted to a mistake. Iran's supreme leader said the government's population-control policy had been wrong and would be replaced by “fertility programs." But Karami doubts Iranian women facing economic uncertainty would limit their opportunities to have children.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei departs after casting his ballot in the parliamentary election in Tehran March 2, 2012. Polls opened on Friday for a parliamentary election in Iran that will test the popularity of the clerical establishment at a time of a standoff with the West over the country's nuclear programme.  REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN - Tag

On Oct. 10, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei did something he had rarely, if ever, done: He admitted to making a mistake. During a speech in the Khorasan province, he said, “One of the mistakes we made in the '90s was population control. Government officials were wrong on this matter, and I, too, had a part. May God and history forgive us.”

After the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, Iranian officials introduced family-planning programs due to the high birth rates that resulted from the wartime population-growth policy. A successful subsidized program that included birth control and vasectomy clinics, among other services, was implemented nationwide. Slogans were created, including “Less Children, Better Lives” (which rhymes in Persian) and “Two Children is Enough,” to influence public opinion. The Minister of Health at the time, Alireza Marandi, received the 2000 United Nations Population Award for these efforts. Social factors also contributed to declining birth rates. With more females attending college, marriages and child births were both delayed.

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