Opinion Editorial
Editorial

Condoms for porn actors: A statewide law isn't the answer

Think requiring porn actors to use condoms has made their lives safer? Think again

Nearly two years ago, Los Angeles County voters passed Measure B, a controversial ballot proposal requiring adult film actors to use condoms when performing sex scenes. The law was presented to voters as a public health measure designed to prevent workers in the so-called porn capital of the world from contracting and spreading HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

But there's no evidence that the law has had its intended effect. Instead, many adult film production companies have moved their shoots outside of the county — and in some cases, out of the state or country. Others have stopped filing for county film permits and have reportedly continued to shoot without complying with the condom mandate. In all, the number of permits issued to adult films in L.A. County dropped 90% in 2013 after Measure B went into effect, and there is no indication that porn stars are any safer today than they were two years ago.

Given Los Angeles County's experience, it's mind-boggling that so many state legislators have backed a bill that would essentially expand Measure B statewide. Assembly Bill 1576 would require film producers to document that actors use condoms during vaginal or anal intercourse, and it would require regular HIV and STD testing of actors.

The bill's author, Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton), has argued that porn stars are workers and deserve a safe workplace. He's right. Performers should use condoms and producers should encourage them to do so. In 2010, The Times editorial board supported a proposed ordinance in L.A. that would have required condoms in adult film productions.

But upon further research, it became clear that government is ill-equipped to mandate and enforce the use of condoms on adult film sets. In fact, state occupational health regulations already call on all employers to prevent their workers from being exposed to blood, semen and saliva in the course of their job — and regulators have interpreted that to mean that porn actors must use condoms. But the rules are routinely ignored, and the state doesn't have the staff to inspect film sets, which, by the very nature of the business, are often in under-the-radar locations such as homes.

Industry leaders argue that their voluntary system of testing actors every two weeks for HIV and STDs, and providing the results to producers, agents and other performers, is a better, more practical way to prevent the spread of disease on set. And there is concern that if the pornography business leaves its base in California and becomes fragmented around the globe, the industry's testing protocols will be weakened and performers will be at greater risk of getting sick.

When the editorial board opposed Measure B in 2012, we said that its proponents were taking an attitude of "let's pass it and see what happens." Well, now we know what happened. Legislators should learn from L.A. County's experience and reject AB 1576.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • The carbon that's killing India, and how California can help
    The carbon that's killing India, and how California can help

    This week, President Obama is the chief guest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at India's Republic Day celebrations. At the close of the historic visit, the two leaders are expected to announce cooperation on a suite of climate and clean energy measures, with the ultimate goal of reining in...

  • Why we need to address population growth's effects on global warming
    Why we need to address population growth's effects on global warming

    Earlier this month, Pope Francis made news when he said that not only was climate change real, but it was mostly man-made. Then, last week, he said that couples do not need to breed “like rabbits” but rather should plan their families responsibly — albeit without the use of...

  • Sorting out U.S. visas for crime victims
    Sorting out U.S. visas for crime victims

    As a society, we want people to report crimes and help bring criminals to justice. Without the cooperation of victims, the criminal justice system doesn't work very well. One particular problem for police and prosecutors is that people living in the country illegally are often hesitant to...

  • Republicans need their own rhetoric of reliance
    Republicans need their own rhetoric of reliance

    New leader of the state Senate Kevin de León made waves last fall for both the lavish “inaugural” bash he threw himself and for the speech he gave there. “Isn't it time we shatter the great American myth about pulling oneself up by the bootstraps?” the Democrat...

  • A problem with how we treat cancer -- and how to fix it
    A problem with how we treat cancer -- and how to fix it

    I was diagnosed with cancer after giving birth to my third child. The tumor had grown especially large thanks to my body’s hormones that had been growing my baby. The medical community helped my disease, but could not help my despair.

  • Stubborn like a musk ox -- why Homo sapiens can't think straight about nuclear weapons
    Stubborn like a musk ox -- why Homo sapiens can't think straight about nuclear weapons

    Most people can be forgiven for ignoring the threat posed by nuclear weapons. It might seem surprising, but we have been preprogrammed by our own evolutionary history to engage in such ignorance. The nuclear age is just a tiny blip tacked on to our very recent phylogenetic past, so when it...

Comments
Loading