Freshman Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, was surprised to learn that there’s a news story out about a question he asked this morning regarding abortion and prostitution – and that it’s going viral. He attended an ACLU breakfast presentation in the Capitol this morning, and when it was opened up for questions and answers at the end, Mendive said his question was prompted by the group placing women’s reproductive rights among its high priorities. So he asked whether the ACLU supports prostitution along with abortion, because it’s also “a woman’s choice.” The Associated Press reported that there were “audible gasps” in the room at his question, and ACLU Executive Director Monica Hopkins responded that abortion rights are constitutionally protected, while prostitution is illegal; and that prostitution is not always a choice, as in human trafficking cases.
“Was there a reporter in the room?” Mendive asked when told about the story. “I am anti-abortion, so that’s why I brought up that question,” he said.
Mendive said, “Actually I grew up in Kellogg, and the reality is there used to be brothels in Wallace. That was a career choice – no one forced them into that.” He said he didn’t mean that he thought prostitution should be legal. “I think that there’s kind of a double standard,” he said. “With abortion there are two beating hearts, and prostitution, there’s just one. If a woman were going to make a choice to be a prostitute, that’s her decision as to what to do with her body.”
He said in his view, it’s comparable to someone deciding to use illegal drugs. “I don’t support that either,” he said. “Those were just examples.”
Mendive said he didn’t feel like his question was answered. “She changed the topic,” he said of Hopkins, who noted that anti-human trafficking legislation may be introduced this year. “Human trafficking is a real serious problem in this country,” Mendive said.
Asked about making the news like this when he’s just been serving in the Legislature for a week and a half, Mendive said, “I guess that’s life. There’s right and there’s wrong. I’ll stand up for right.” You can read the full story here at spokesman.com.