In a joint letter to President Bush, over 100 women\'s, health and policy organizations have urged him to protect victims of human trafficking and \"stand firm on legislation and policies that require groups receiving certain federal grants to provide written assurance that they oppose prostitution.\"

The letter brings into sharp focus a contentious debate over how to best aid prostituted persons and sex trafficking victims. Some governments and groups favor the so-called \"harm reduction\" approach that emphasizes supplying sexually exploited persons with condoms and trying to teach negotiating skills. The U.S. government instead promotes an abolitionist approach that opposes prostitution as inherently harmful and degrading and actively supports the rescue and restoration of sexually exploited individuals, most of whom are women and children.

The U.S. policy-supporting letter was delivered by the Christian Medical Association (CMA, to President Bush\'s domestic policy advisor, Claude Allen. The letter counters the contentions of some activist groups, expressed in a letter sent to Mr. Bush in May, calling for the President not to enforce the anti-prostitution pledge policy, which was passed by Congress (the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003) and signed into law.

Consistent with that law, President Bush issued a National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-22) that asserted, \"Our Policy is based on an abolitionist approach to trafficking in persons? . The United States Government opposes prostitution and any related activities, including pimping, pandering, or maintaining brothels as contributing to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons.\"

The letter supporting U.S. policy was signed by groups representing tens of millions of constituents worldwide and included the CMA, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, National Association of Evangelicals, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Sex Industry Survivors, The Medical Institute, The Salvation Army, World Hope International, World Relief and others. Besides the over 100 groups, the letter also included the signatures of 50 physicians and prominent feminists such as Donna M. Hughes, Ph.D., Diana E. H. Russell, Ph.D., and Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D.

Groups protesting U.S. policy, however, asserted in their letter that opposing prostitution is judgmental and that \"organizations with the most effective anti-AIDS and anti-trafficking strategies build their efforts on a sophisticated understanding of the social and personal dynamics underlying these issues.\"

The groups supporting U.S. policy countered in their letter, \"If a \'sophisticated understanding\' means winking at human slave markets and consigning trafficking victims to continued torture, degradation, and death from disease and abuse, then we should prefer a \'simple understanding\' that sees slavery as evil and rescues victims before they are further abused, exploited or killed.\"

Interviews with Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMA) physicians are available upon request. Relevant documents can be reviewed at