Reproductive Justice and Sex Worker Rights

Mar 31, 2023

Reproductive Justice and Sex Worker Rights: The same tools built to police SW are used to police abortion, criminalize miscarriage, and impede access to care. The criminalization of SW and the criminalization of contraception, including abortion, have a shared history. Thus, our current fight for reproductive justice and sex worker rights should also go hand in hand.

People get abortions and engage in SW on a spectrum of choice, circumstance, and coercion. Everyone should have access to the services and support they need to avoid exploitation, stay safe, and make choices about their own future.

Anthony Comstock’s crusade against pr*stitution and p*rnography led to the Comstock Laws of 1873, which conflated information about contraception with obscenity. Laws criminalizing pr*stitution and contraception were passed under the guise of “protecting [white] women.”

Many of these laws are disproportionately used to criminalize Black and immigrant women for selling s*xual services, contraception, and providing abortion care. Women of color, especially Black women, have been routinely r*ped, experimented on, and suffered forced sterilization at the hands of medical doctors, many of whom lobbied to criminalize “immoral behavior” in the name of public health.

Criminalizing abortion or SW has never prevented people from engaging in either, but it makes both less safe. Like abortion, many of the dangers related to SW are the direct result of criminalization. Everyone deserves access to the care they need to safely have s*x, a baby, or an abortion. Criminalizing people’s choices has never made us safer or healthier, and it never will.

To read more, visit our resource page on SW and reproductive justice.