Backers Withdraw Ballot Initiative to Decriminalize Sex Work

Advocates will not attempt to strike prostitution statutes from the Oregon criminal code this year.

The backers of an initiative petition to decriminalize sex work in Oregon have given up on making the November 2022 ballot.

Portland investor Aaron Boonshoft, chief petitioner for Initiative Petition 51, withdrew the petition Thursday afternoon. The campaign confirmed to WW that the withdrawal means advocates will not attempt to strike prostitution statutes from the Oregon criminal code this year.

“We are committed to sex worker-led decriminalization efforts,” Boonshoft said in a statement released by the campaign upon WW’s inquiry. “All Oregonians should have access to health, safety and justice. And I believe sex worker rights are at the forefront of what’s needed to create a more just, kind and compassionate world.”

It wasn’t immediately clear why Boonshoft abandoned his effort, which he has funded with an Ohio commodities-trading fortune. The campaign previously withdrew and refiled IP 51 earlier this year, tweaking the language.

In recent weeks, comments on the proposed ballot title by the law firm Harrang Long Gary Rudnick showed that, had the initiative qualified for the ballot, it would have received organized opposition.