Is sex work inherently and irredeemably wicked, as the abolitionsts would have us conclude? Or is it in fact possible to have a morally defensible prostitution? A testing of public values alone will not answer these questions, assuming they are even answerable. Values are an important and necessary starting point for a discussion of public policy, to be sure, but they are only one element of policy. Given that vulnerable lives are going to be affected, the feds are going to need to come up with a solid policy that has something more beneath it than our deeply-held touchy feelies.
Creating laws that are overly broad and ineffective will just push sex work back into the shadows, and will continue to make it less safe for all those involved. Sex work can be safe, clean, and beneficial to those of us who choose it as a career. It can be conducted ethically, honestly, and freely, with the full consent of all participants. It can be done right, in the privacy of our own homes, without exploitation; we just need to ensure that governments do not restrict our right to choose what we do with our own bodies.
Despite this new ruling, the debate around prostitution is hardly settled. There are those who wish to legalize and normalize the industry, those who wish to criminalize all aspects of the industry, and finally those, like myself, who recognize prostitution as an industry that is inherently harmful to women and girls and therefore must be eliminated.