GSL Online

Gender & Sexuality Law Online is a webjournal published by the Columbia Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.

Women Who Abort as Victims and Prostitutes as “Allegorical Threats to the Nation”

Author: Donna Azoulay, JD 2010

Abstract: Abortion and prostitution share similarities. Both typically involve two parties, one providing a service and the other paying for the service. Further, abortion and prostitution are typically gendered practices – in cases of abortion the person performing the abortion, also known as the service provider, is typically a male and the customers are always female; in prostitution the prostitute, also viewed as a service provider, is usually a female and her customer usually male. Additionally, abortion and prostitution relate to sex either indirectly or directly. The underlying act that leads to abortion is sex, and the act that directly defines prostitution is sex, yet for some reason the law treats the woman who aborts differently than the woman who engages in prostitution. It goes without saying that women who abort and prostitutes are not exactly the same, and therefore it does not seem unreasonable that under the law they are! treated differently. However, this paper seeks to understand why women who abort are treated as victims whereas prostitutes are treated as criminals. Paternalism, language, motherhood, and marital rape, are proposed as four possible reasons why the United States criminal justice system treats women who abort as victims, and prostitutes as “allegorical threats to the nation.”

Full Article: Women Who Abort as Victims and Prostitutes as “Allegorical Threats to the Nation”

Subjects: Criminal Law, Family Law, Reproductive Rights, Sex Work


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