Does the Medical Community Want Prostitution Legalized?

PRO (yes)

Fiona Godlee, Editor of the BMJ (British Medical Journal), wrote the Jan. 28, 2006 BMJ article "Vice Versa" that stated:

"[P]roperly licensed premises would mean that the worst aspects of the sex trade-child prostitution, trafficking, and slavery and the exploitation of vulnerable people-could be tackled.

Licensing premises would encourage sex workers' access to health and social care. ...It is surely time for an end to the arguments of moral opprobrium and for some bolder steps towards legalisation if we are to improve public health and human rights."

Jan. 28, 2006 - Fiona Godlee, MB BChir 

The Lancet, a medical journal, in the Aug. 10, 1996 editorial entitled "Buying Sex, Safely," wrote:

"Decriminalisation... offers a valuable opportunity both to lessen the unnecessary harrassment of prostitutes by police and to assist women in finding safer urban areas to work."

Aug. 10, 1996 - Lancet 

Basil Donovan, MD, Professor of Sexual Health at National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research of the University of New South Wales, co-wrote the Oct. 5, 1996 The Lancet article "Prostitution: To Decriminalise or To Legalise," which stated:

"Because prostitution offends some sensibilities, it is tempting for political pragmatists to be seen to ban or regulate it. We believe there is ample evidence that restoration of human rights through decriminalisation, free-market forces with cosmetic controls, and broad-based health-promotion programmes will yield a healthier and more humane sex industry for the UK. The longer term political gains are substantial. The UK, like New South Wales, may even be able to contemplate workable occupational health and safety guidelines for brothels in a climate of co-operation between sex industry, health, and government representatives."

Oct. 5, 1996 - Basil Donovan, MD 

Umberto Tirelli, MD, Director of the Department of Medical Oncology at the Oncologic Referral Center at the National Cancer Institute in Aviano, Italy wrote "Health and Tax Legislation For Prostitutes" posted on his website (accessed Feb. 7, 2007):

"It is [for] some time that I have been pointing out that the introduction of an ad-hoc regulation for prostitution in Italy is most urgent for a number of reasons: fight against organized crime, rehabilitation of certain areas of our towns and for health-related conditions. In reorganizing prostitution we could follow the examples set by such towns as Amsterdam and Berlin, where prostitution is restricted to specific areas or to specific places which are regularly controlled by health and tax inspectors. The means to enforce a regulation for prostitution may vary but the end is only one: take prostitutes away from the street and from the criminal gangs and keep an activity which is presently more or less underground under tax and health controls."

Feb. 7, 2007 - Umberto Tirelli, MD 

CON (no)

Melissa Farley, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Founding Director of the Prostitution Research and Education, wrote "Bad for the Body, Bad for the Heart" in the Oct. 2004 Violence Against Women, that stated:

"Legal sex businesses provide locations where sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and violence against women are perpetrated with impunity. State-sponsored prostitution endangers all women and children in that acts of sexual predation are normalized — acts ranging from the seemingly banal (breast massage) to the lethal (snuff prostitution that includes filming of actual murders of real women and children)...

Johns who buy women, groups promoting legalized prostitution, and governments that support state-sponsored sex industries comprise a tripartite partnership that endangers all women. These groups collude in denying the everyday violence and subsequent health dangers to those in prostitution."

Oct. 2004 - Melissa Farley, PhD 

Jeffrey J. Barrows, DO, Health Consultant on Human Trafficking for the Christian Medical Association, wrote the article "HIV and Prostitution: What's the Answer?" posted Sept. 9, 2005 on The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity website that stated:

"Even if a prostitute is being tested every week for HIV, she will test negative for at least the first 4-6 weeks and possibly the first 12 weeks after being infected. If we assume that he or she takes only 4 weeks to become positive, because there is an additional lag time of 1-2 weeks to get the results back, there will be at best a window period of 6 weeks for a prostitute. The average prostitute services between 10-15 clients per day. This means that while the test is becoming positive and the results are becoming known, that prostitute may expose up to 630 clients to HIV. This is under the best of circumstances with testing every week and a four-week window period. It also assumes that the prostitute will quit working as soon as he or she finds out the test is HIV positive, which is highly unlikely. This is not the best approach for actually reducing harm. Instead, in order to slow the global spread of HIV/AIDS we should focus our efforts on abolishing prostitution."

Sep. 9, 2005 - Jeffrey J. Barrows, DO 

Joseph Parker, RN, Clinical Director of the Lola Greene Baldwin Foundation, wrote the Aug. 4, 1998 paper "How Prostitution Works," which stated:

"Prostitution, pornography, and other forms of commercial sex are a multibillion dollar industry. They enrich a small minority of predators, while the larger community is left to pay for the damage.

People used in the sex industry often need medical care as a result of the ever-present violence. They may need treatment for infectious diseases, including AIDS. Survivors frequently need mental health care for post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic episodes and suicide attempts. About a third end up chronically disabled and on Social Security...

In addition to these costs, the community loses the contributions which might have been made to legitimate community productivity by those used up in the sex industry."

Aug. 4, 1998 - Joseph Parker