A common-sense bill that will prevent hundreds of unwanted pregnancies and help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases has been languishing in the state Legislature since 1999.
It’s time lawmakers finally pass it.
The bill (S1379/A2736) would ban the possession of contraceptive devices as evidence in the criminal prosecution of prostitution cases.
Currently, if you’re caught with a bunch of condoms, police can use that as evidence that you’re engaged in prostitution; sometimes it’s the only evidence.
But research done by several organizations confirms that the law discourages those in the sex trade from using condoms and promotes the spread of diseases such as HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis.
In discouraging people from using condoms, the law also undermines public efforts to encourage their use.
In addition, many prosecutors and law enforcement officials say prostitution cases rarely make it to trial and that possession of condoms alone doesn't very often lead to conviction anyway. And in cases of human trafficking, many prostitutes are victims of crimes, and therefore using condoms as evidence against them serves no positive legal purpose.
So in essence, all the current law does is discourage the people who are often at greatest risk of spreading sexual diseases from protecting themselves and others.
A change in the law is long overdue.