An Idaho lawmaker on Thursday compared abortion to prostitution, arguing that both are “a choice” that women make, and asking members of the Idaho American Civil Liberties to defend prostitution, since they were willing to protect women’s access to abortion services.
Presenting abortion and prostitution as cavaler choices women make and ignoring the real danger of sex slavery, State Rep. Ron Mendive (R) elicited “audible gasps” on Wednesday during a meeting with representatives from the group, which later condemned his comparison:
“He was correlating a criminal action with something that is constitutionally protected. Those are two completely separate issues,” [an ACLU representative said after the event. […]
“It was just a question,” he said. “I do believe it’s a double standard.”
Prostitution is a choice “more so than an abortion would be,” he said.
“Because (in an abortion) there’s two beating hearts. And then there’s one,” Mendive said.
Asked later whether he stood by what he had said, Mendive offered, “Maybe it was a poor illustration.”
For some women, sex work is in fact a choice, and questions have been raised as to whether the United States should consider honoring that work as legal employment. But that does not mean that all sex work is voluntary, and, in any case, it is no reason to invite a comparison with abortion.