Another Blow for Abstinence


Back in 2005, I reported on the much-hated anti-prostitution pledge, an anti-sex work oath foreign aid organizations had to sign if they wanted a piece of the $15 billion President Bush had set aside for anti-AIDS work. At the time, the great libertarian humanitarian (and Reason donor) Phil Harvey was fighting the pledge on First Amendment grounds, hoping he could continue his partially PEPFAR -funded work in Vietnam and elsewhere without having to publicly proclaim an objection to sex work. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against Harvey in March. And here are some recent happenings in the life of Randall Tobias, the United States Global Aids Coordinator from 2003 to 2006, head of USAID thereafter, and vocal fan of abstinence for poor people everywhere:

Randall L. Tobias, the deputy secretary of state responsible for U.S. foreign aid, abruptly resigned yesterday after he was asked about an upscale escort service allegedly involved in prostitution, U.S. government sources said.

Tobias resigned after ABC News contacted him with questions about the escort service, the sources said. ABC News released a statement last night saying Tobias acknowledged Thursday that he had used the service to provide massages, not sex.

No one said you had to abstain from massages, Africa! All of this says less about the anti-prostitution pledge than it does about one sad man; the former deserves to be assailed on its own merits and absent the apparent hypocrisy of its supporters.