Legalizing Prostitution

On Tuesday, February 11th, the Roosevelt Institute had another great policy discussion – this time about legalizing prostitution. AJ, our Vice President, led the club in a thought-provoking conversation. The question of legalizing prostitution is one with several facets.

People raised several interesting questions. For instance, in prostitution, does the woman (or man) engaging in sex work become the good in the transaction? What ethical implications does this have? We also discussed the importance of the language surrounding the issue and the difference between the terms “sex worker” and “prostitute.” In terms of practical policy implications, we discussed what type or types of prostitution should be legalized. One way to determine what legal prostitution could look like in the U.S. is to look at places where it is already legal, such as the Netherlands. Legalizing prostitution would have impact sex workers’ abilities to unionize and obtain benefits from their work. Other questions included what the effects on human trafficking would be if prostitution were legalized. We also questioned whether prostitution could be legalized in the United States – in other words, is the country “ready” to pass an issue like this? Would it have popular support?