Ohio Issue 1 Can Create a ‘Constitutional Right’ to Prostitution – The Stream

Voters debating Issue 1 should ponder one question: How would you like to see a series of brothels across every town in Ohio? That would please the sponsors of Issue 1, who have written the constitutional amendment so broadly that it could create a “constitutional right” to prostitution. Here’s how.

What’s on the Ballot in Ohio on Tuesday?

Ohio’s Issue 1 is on the ballot Tuesday. It would amend the state constitution to give “[e]very individual” the “right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to” contraception and abortion. “Individual” does not mean “adult,” and “reproductive decisions” is an empty vessel judicial activists can use to create a right to anything conceivably tied to reproduction. That sloppy language goes way beyond legalizing abortion until birth, just as its authors intended.

Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights (OURR), which sponsored Issue 1, is a coalition of abortionists, the transgender industry, the ACLU, and radical left-wing organizations. Several members openly support legalizing — even normalizing — prostitution. The Ohio Women’s Alliance calls for “[d]ecriminalizing sex work.” The OWA’s deputy director, Jordyn Close, describes herself as “a sex and pleasure advocate … working on destigmatizing and uplifting sex work.” (She also says “every abortion is essential,” and “all barriers to abortion are racist.”) Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE) says laws against prostitution are “robbing [hookers] of opportunities for income” and stand “in opposition to our core values.”

Legalizing Social Policy Through Judicial Activism

The ACLU, which holds the crown for legalizing unpopular social policies through judicial activism, helped write the amendment. “It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work,” declared the ACLU in July. “The ACLU’s commitment to sex work decriminalization is rooted … in our mission and commitment to advocating for equal civil liberties and rights for all people,” the group said.

What judge would be radical enough to ferret out a new “constitutional right” to “sex work”? Try Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “The Notorious RBG” wrote in 1977, “prostitution proscriptions” — that is, laws against prostitution — “are subject to several constitutional and policy objections. Prostitution, as a consensual act between adults, is arguably within the zone of privacy protected by recent constitutional decisions.” (See “Sex Bias in the U.S. Code: A Report for the United States Commission on Civil Rights,” April 1977, p. 95). At the time she wrote those words, the future Supreme Court justice worked for the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. For her judicial activist views, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund called Ginsburg “a gender equality hero.”

While Roe v. Wade has been overturned, the precedents that Ginsburg cited are still on the books. Griswold v. Connecticut explained the Warren Court’s creative approach to the Constitution: “The Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance,” Roe added that these emanations created a constitutional “right” to “sexual privacy,” so abortion is “protected by the Bill of Rights or its penumbra.” These pregnant penumbras can give birth to any “right” liberals wish to midwife. Ginsburg said the right to prostitution comes from these Supreme Court’s decisions on contraception — which Issue 1 explicitly references.

The ACLU could artifice this argument based on Supreme Court precedent. But amending the constitution refashions the state’s entire legal structure. Certainly, the right to engage in prostitution could result in pregnancy, so it is a “reproductive decision.”

The coalition must hide behind elastic legal terms, because it knows Ohioans would not willingly legalize prostitution to actualize “bodily autonomy.” Legalizing “sex work” increases human trafficking and the exploitation of women … and girls. “[C]ountries where prostitution is legal experience a larger reported incidence of human trafficking inflows,” according to a 2013 study in Europe. Issue 1’s sponsors overlook all this pain, because limiting unbridled eros stands “in opposition to our core values.”

In the Name of “Freedom”

That judgment should give you an insight into how the Issue 1 coalition approaches abortion. They sweep aside all concerns about the possible harms beneath the euphemism of “freedom.” They want to give abortionists like Dayton’s Martin Haskell, who invented partial-birth abortion, the “freedom” to commit abortions until birth. They want to give Planned Parenthood the “freedom” not to report abortions committed on minor “individuals.” And they want to create the “freedom” for pimps and traffickers to brutalize and exploit the weak and vulnerable without giving you a vote on the matter.

Ohio, Protect Our Girls

Finally, each state sets its own legislative limit for statutory rape. If Issue 1 establishes a constitutional right for “individuals” of all ages to make “reproductive decisions,” how would that affect Ohio’s age of consent laws? Isn’t the right to consent to sex the most primary “reproductive decision”?

The abortion industry was legalized by an act of judicial activism 50 years ago. With half the states severely curtailing abortion, the industry needs to increase its profit margin. It’s clear why Planned Parenthood would want to maximize underage girls’ “right” to abortion and increase the number of casual, unprotected sexual encounters via prostitution. It’s unclear why Ohioans would want to let them profit off of our girls.

Rev. Ben Johnson (@therightswriter) is an Eastern Orthodox priest and senior editor at The Washington Stand, the Family Research Council’s news website. His views are his own.

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