John 8:10-11: “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
Last week, a group of prostitutes, former prostitutes, and supporters of the decriminalization of prostitution held a rally at the New York State Capitol.
Despite the rally’s poor attendance (the media indicated that there were over 100 participants), it was given a great deal of attention by the Albany media. Calling themselves “sex workers,” members of Decrim NY stated that while they would “prefer the complete decriminalization of prostitution, the elimination of criminal penalties for loitering [for prostitution] would be a good start.” The group believes that criminalizing prostitution only serves to “punish and stigmatize already vulnerable people who need access to housing, health care and education.”
In similar fashion, the author of a recent article in Teen Vogue sought to legitimize prostitution. The article—entitled “Sex Work Is Real Work”—argued not only for the “full decriminalization” of prostitution, but also for “public campaigns to decrease [the] stigma” surrounding prostitution. (Are you wondering why any magazine for teenagers would publish such an article? We certainly are.) Amazingly, the writer—a physician—added, “I am a doctor, an expert in sexual health, but when you think about it, aren’t I a sex worker? And in some ways, aren’t we all?”
Um, no. No, we’re not.
Friends, this is nothing new from the American left. On issue after issue, we have seen the same approach. First, when the left wants to legitimize something that is morally objectionable, they rename it. Here are a few examples: “Abortion” is renamed “termination of pregnancy.” “Assisted suicide” is not suicide; it’s “medical aid in dying.” In New York, a homosexual marriage bill was called the “Marriage Equality Act,” and an abortion expansion bill was called the “Reproductive Health Act.” Now, “prostitution” is being renamed “sex work.”
Second, the left tries to persuade the public that the problems arising from a morally objectionable act are not caused by the act itself, but by the social stigma connected to the act. In the left’s view, the negative consequences of homosexual behavior are not caused by homosexual behavior, but by social disapproval of that behavior and the impact of that disapproval upon persons who engage in it. Therefore, if the disapproval is removed (via the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” for example), the negative consequences will go away as well. Are homosexually oriented men disproportionately likely to contract HIV and other STDs? Removing the stigma surrounding the behavior will help them to feel better about themselves, and they will be less likely to engage in unsafe practices. Are persons with gender dysphoria vulnerable to mental illness and suicide? If we allow those persons to use opposite-sex restrooms and obtain taxpayer-funded “sex reassignment surgeries,” that will solve the whole problem. Are people upset by the number of persons incarcerated for drug crimes? Legalize marijuana! And now, the problems faced by prostitutes can be solved if prostitution is decriminalized.
The truth is this: There is a reason for the stigma against prostitution. Prostitution is inherently unhealthy and dangerous. Prostitutes are likely to experience violence, are in danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, and are vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even when prostitution is legalized, prostitutes continue to experience frequent physical and sexual violence. And the legalization of prostitution has been linked to an increase in human trafficking and an increase in child prostitution. Furthermore, prostitution demeans women and degrades the human dignity of everyone who participates in it. Legalizing prostitution is not the answer; eradicating prostitution is.
At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we stand in firm opposition to the legalization of prostitution. We believe that law enforcement should focus its efforts on punishing those who use prostitutes, on pimps, and (especially) on persons who engage in the evil practice of sex trafficking. We have supported measures to assist persons who have been forced to engage in prostitution. However, persons who prostitute themselves of their own free will make a choice for which they should be held accountable.