“Fewer Children, Better Life” or “As Many as God Wants”?
Article first published online: 8 JAN 2008
Medical Anthropology Quarterly
Volume 20, Issue 1, pages 50–71, March 2006
How to Cite
Tober, D. M., Taghdisi, M.-H. and Jalali, M. (2006), “Fewer Children, Better Life” or “As Many as God Wants”?. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 20: 50–71. doi: 10.1525/maq.2006.20.1.50
- Issue published online: 8 JAN 2008
- Article first published online: 8 JAN 2008
- medical anthropology;
- family planning;
- maternal and child health;
- Shi'a Islam;
In the West it is often assumed that religion (esp. Islam) and contraception are mutually exclusive. Yet, the Islamic Republic of Iran has one of the most successful family-planning programs in the developing world, and is often looked to as a potential model for other Muslim countries. Although Iran's family-planning program has been extremely successful among Iranians, it has been far less successful among Afghan refugees and other ethnic groups. Afghans and Iranians both seek services in Iran's public health sector for family health care, treatment of infectious disease, and childhood vaccinations. On these occasions, all adult married patients are strongly encouraged to use family planning to reduce the number of offspring. In this article, we explore how Iran's family-planning program is differentially perceived and utilized among low-income Iranian and Afghan refugee families in rural and urban locations. Particular attention is given to how different interpretations of Islam may or may not influence reproductive health-related behaviors and how cultural factors influence reproductive strategies.