Student Group Publishes Op-Eds Against Anti-Prostitution Pledge
Last week, members of the Fordham Law Student Advocates for Sexual Health and Rights traveled with their faculty advisor Chi Mgbako to Washington, DC to observe oral arguments for USAID v. AOSI at the Supreme Court. In this First Amendment case, the Court will decide whether the United States government can condition USAID funding on an “anti-prostitution pledge”, which requires funding recipients to take an organization-wide oath that they oppose prostitution.
Chi Mgbako and Elizabeth Gavin (The Record’s Managing Editor) each wrote op-eds calling on the Supreme Court to strike down the pledge requirement. Mgbako focused on the public health arguments in an op-ed for The Guardian.
Ideologically inspired rules and restrictions should not trump tried and tested public health practices. In the fight against HIV and Aids, public health organisations should take a non-judgmental approach to sex work and reject stigmatisation of sex workers.
Gavin emphasized the law’s First Amendment violations in arguing against the pledge in the Huffington Post.
The pledge requirement abuses the power of the purse by strengthening organizations that ingratiate themselves with the government and financially paralyzing those that do not. Because the requirement dictates which beliefs a recipient organization can have, organizations that disagree with the government, or have no opinion either way about sex work, are excluded from the funding program.