Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan made headlines on Monday when he stated that no Muslim family should adhere to birth control, and that it was the duty of his people to ensure the growth of the country’s population. The President’s ill-advised opinion does not come as a shock; he has already labelled using any form of contraceptive as ‘treasonous’ in 2014.

The statement becomes particularly damaging when it is issued by a Muslim leader who is loved and respected internationally. Erdogan’s words are only a reflection of the broader mindset of the Muslim world, and unfortunately give support to efforts to ban contraceptive commercials in Pakistan. Currently, Turkey is facing a multitude of problems with regards to the equality of the sexes, population control, and how much the government is allowed to interfere in all matters pertaining to family and religion. A mere 35 percent of the women in the country make up part of the workforce. The Muslim world is also currently facing an ideological crisis that it has not been able to reconcile so far because of such regressive attitudes. Attempting to balance one’s belief system with the demands of everyday life in the modern world can often be challenging. Instead of making things clearer for the general public, clerics and political leaders both, have only made things more complicated, locking people into cycles of violence, confused about what feels right but is prescribed by clerics to be wrong (like birth control and women’s rights).

The simple reason for not looking to control birth in the time of Islam’s nascent stages was simply because of the incidence of deaths during childbirth and high rates of child mortality. There was little need for birth control, nor were there safe methods available for contraception. This is no longer the case. There are over 7.4 billion people trying to find space on land; a finite resource. Majority of the Muslims countries have a high incidence of poverty, and it is simply unethical to tell people that contraception is against Islam, knowing that many parents cannot afford to raise a big family.

Which choice is more moral, deciding to use contraceptives if a family cannot afford to have more children and wants to provide a batter standard of living for one or two children, or to refuse birth control and let children starve or grow up uneducated and poor? The key word is ‘choice’, and it is a personal one. It is the job of the state to let people take the choice, from their own free will, rather than spreading misinformation and banning options and information on contraception.