Iranian Clinics Ordered to Report Pregnant Women to Prevent Abortion

A letter from the Justice Ministry of the Mazandaran province in Iran called for an organized reporting of women who tested positive for pregnancy. The goal, according to the letter, is to fend off criminal abortions.

ABC News reported that Mahdiar Saeedian, an Iranian medical journalist, leaked the Justice Ministry's letter through Twitter. Critics are speculating that Iran is using this order to bolster the population despite poor public welfare. Women and women's rights advocates quickly took to social media to show their opposition to Iran's plan.

One Twitter user compared Iran's plan to The Handmaid's Tale, a television series set in a country ruled by a religious fundamentalist regime. "Protecting patients' privacy is meaningless," the Tweet continued.

According to Saeedian, one of the plans to prevent abortion is organizing and "connecting laboratories and the clinical centers to introduce mothers with positive pregnancy test results."

With the recently leaked letter from the Justice Minister, the gender disparity in Iran has become more intense. As of 2020, women in Iran account for only 15.2 percent of the entire workforce. On September 27, the head of Public Relations of the IRIB posted on Instagram an order that prohibits women from eating pizza and sandwiches. IRIB also ordered that men should not be portrayed pouring tea to women in a workplace setting.

Sima, a 29-year old engineer who talked to ABC News, experienced the hardships of getting a safe abortion in Iran. According to Sima, three years ago, she became pregnant from an affair; she said she was able to "illegally get some pills to terminate the pregnancy." She started bleeding uncontrollably but declined to go to the hospital. "I was afraid to go to the hospital for fear of arrest," she explained.

Sima was eventually taken to an underground abortion clinic. "I was even afraid of telling my boss about it. He might have fired me," she added.

In response to the backlash in social media, Mazandaran TV, an IRIB-broadcast channel that covers the provinces Mazanderan and Golestan, televised an interview with the crime prevention deputy. According to the interview, the plan stated on the letter leaked on Twitter was meant to prevent "unprofessional abortions."

In an interview with ABC News, a women's rights activist in Iran is not buying IRIB's propaganda. "Our experience proves that denials are just to soothe the backlash, " she explained.

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