Controversial Bill Sparks Lively Debate
Senate Bill 9, also titled Legalizing Prostitution in New Mexican Metropolitan Areas, has been signed into law by Governor Delgado. The bill was proposed and represented by Emma Ramsey and Selia Lozoya respectively, both from the Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science.
The bill would make prostitution in the state of New Mexico legal as long as it took place exclusively in authorized locations in urban areas, known as bordellos. The bill also proposes a list of regulations that would keep the bordello employees safe from sexually transmitted diseases and assault, such as bi-weekly testing and fines for coming into the bordello and soliciting the employees while under the influence of drugs, and more. The possible benefits from this bill include decreased crime, homelessness, drug use, rapes, sexual assault, and improvements in the economic situation of employees.
This bill was hotly contested by many, including those such as State Treasurer Lilith Clark and Delegate Shosha Wheeler. “Not many sex workers would actually be comfortable with such highly regulated facilities” says Clark, “and it wouldn’t actually do anything to help underage sex workers.” Some sex workers could be put off by the number of restrictions put in place by the facility, as well as the fact that “ [...] sex workers would be accessories to crime if they didn’t report a sexual misdemeanor, even though many would likely be uncomfortable,” and could end up going back to the streets anyways, which would defeat the purpose of the bill. Wheeler says that “The authors were clearly passionate,” but that “the practical implications which could arise through some of the provisions were not thoroughly considered.”
In response to these concerns, co-author and Delegate Emma Ramsey said, “We knew it would be a controversial bill. Our purpose was not to solve the entire prostitution issue, but to humanize prostitution as a line of work. We want to provide a
pathway where prostitution could be legal.” Prostitution is a very difficult and nuanced topic to tackle, and would likely not be solved in one legislative session or one bill. It’s a process where small steps must be taken, and this would be the first step towards that. “If we just showed up and said ‘okay, we’re just decriminalizing prostitution’ it would not have passed at all.”
The bill was signed into law by Governor Gaby Delgado late Monday night. Now, New Mexicans over the age of 21 will be able to be employed by the bordellos, as well as attend bordellos to receive those services.