by Marissa Poisson
An Ontario judge ruled on Tuesday that Criminal Code laws against keeping a common bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purpose of prostitution violated women’s Charter rights to freedom of expression and security of the person. (Prostitution is not illegal in Canada, but many of the activities associated with it are. Both the federal and provincial governments announced they will appeal the decision.)
What does this have to do with abortion? Firstly, I would say that proponents of prostitution and abortion have in common the idea that legalizing something dangerous makes it safe. Prostitution may become less hidden if the decision survives the appeals, but exploitation does not become safe by virtue of being legal. Similarly, legalized abortion does not change the nature of the procedure. It may be done in government-funded clinics now, but it is still chemically toxic or physically invasive for the woman undergoing it and deadly for her child.
Secondly, I’ve never met a little girl who says she wants to be a prostitute or have an abortion when she grows up. Women are driven to these things by desperation. A few vocal women may claim to be thriving as prostitutes, but most are addicted to drugs, undereducated and abused, and some are victims of human trafficking. Abortion, for its part, is sometimes used to cover up sexual abuse of minors and illicit relationships, and many women feel pressured to abort by outside expectations.
Thirdly, legal is not synonymous with moral. We don’t have to look far in history to find examples of this. Rulings on abortion and prostitution have been based on security of the person, but the safest thing would be for people to stay far away from both. We need to work to eliminate the conditions that lead women to these supposed choices because no legal ruling can make right what is inherently wrong.