Prostitution is like abortion: you can't stop it
Dec 20, 2013

Prostitution is like abortion: you can't stop it

With the Supreme Court striking down Canada's prostitution laws, they have forced the issue into the public sphere. Within a year, Parliament has to decide to pass new laws regarding prostitution, or decide not to. Undoubtedly this is going to be a highly politicized topic and much like the Liberals new stance on marijuana is going to mean the 2015 election is going to have some elements of the culture wars in it.

The positioning has only barely gotten started yet so we can't comment too authoritatively on how the politics is going play out federally. Prostitution is actually a relatively tricky topic in that a lot of the discussion actually touches on quite a bit larger issues of sex and gender in our society, and deserves some nuance (even if opponents will often be far from nuanced). So at this point, let me just say this: 

You can't stop prostitution. The basic forces under way (people wants sex, and people want money) don't suddenly vanish if the Conservatives successfully implement some way to shut down prostitution (such as making the Johns illegal - prostitution itself is legal in Canada before this ruling) or make it difficult. You can just push it underground, make it less safe, perhaps reduce the frequency of it a bit given the restrictions. 

While there are a lot of arguments out there of why we should not dislike prostitution, this argument is a pretty solid one against those who do have very strong moral objections to allowing prostitution in society. One doesn't have to challenge that position, but side step it. Regardless of the objection, prostitution is going to occur. We can just control whether it is safe, exploitable, regulated, and the like. Should we not do all we can to make the best of this situation, even for those that believe it is a bad situation?

The same is true with abortion. Say what you will of it - and I've said quite a bit on this blog before - but you can't stop abortion. Making it illegal doesn't stop abortions from happening, it makes abortion happen in less safe ways. The basic pressures to have abortions still exist, and people will find ways to do it. The chances of convincing someone who believes that abortion is morally equivalent to murdering innocent babies that abortion should be acceptable are pretty slim. But this argument - that abortion is going to happen either way and we can only how it occurs - at least has a hope. 

Same is true for drug use. You can hate the fact that people smoke pot all you want, but people are going to smoke pot. So we should implement laws that make it as safe, particularly for children, as possible. If the evidence is that legalization and regulation provides the best such path, should it not be considered? 

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