This commentary is by Ericka Redic, of Burlington. She is the Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. House.
Montpelier is now the second city in the state to decriminalize prostitution within its city limits, and I am deeply concerned for what this move will mean for Vermont. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of sex work, the reality is that wherever prostitution is decriminalized, there is a subsequent increase in drug and gang activity, abuse and trafficking. Given that we already have a problem with human, sex and drug trafficking, how much worse will it get?
The libertarian stance is that whatever two consenting adults want to do, they should be able to do, as long as they are not hurting other people. This sounds reasonable and rational, but how many people are doing it because they don’t feel like they have any other choice? Are they an addict, mentally ill, being abused or trafficked? I agree with that stance on topics like the legalization of marijuana. However, if the action of consenting adults leads to an increase in criminality, making the general public less safe, can that logic still stand? Where do we draw the line?
Regardless of your view on sex work, you cannot deny the real human consequences. I have a good friend who is a sex worker, and she’s told me many of the people she used to work with have either committed suicide or died of a drug overdose. I don’t know any other professions (other than maybe police and soldiers) that have that high of a rate of drug overdose and suicide.
The prevalence of suicides and OD’s shows us that the ideas being pushed by Becca Balint, Sarah George and Burlington City Council are not working. Not to mention the drug related shootings and murders regularly taking place in Burlington now. These elected officials are fortunate that they benefit from the Qualified Immunity they want to take away from police. Otherwise, every family with a dead father, sister or cousin, could hold them liable.
With 13 years in recovery, I know personally how difficult opioids are to quit. I know people who have spent years on substitution regimes like Suboxone only to relapse and lose everything all over again. How many more people are there like me who’s addiction started with a prescription?
Last year, Vermont saw the highest increase in drug overdose deaths in the country. Record amounts of Fentanyl, enough to kill every single American, has been seized at our southern border this year. That’s just what they caught! Vermont and the country as a whole are seeing a massive uptick in drug activity. People are more and more likely to die from drug use, and our elected officials want to make policy changes that are known to increase drug activity.
Call me old fashioned, but perhaps an industry with this much human suffering related to it isn’t in our best interest. We are already suffering the consequences of crimes that accompany decriminalized prostitution. Do we really want to contribute to the problem more?