Catholic Social Teaching and Neo-Abolitionism: Tearing Down the House of the Rising Sun

30 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2020

Date Written: 2019


Catholic Social Teaching (“CST”) is the body of literature written in the modern era by papal and episcopal teachers in response to current political, economic, and social issues. CST views individuals in the sex trade as victims, however they arrived in the trade. Prostitution abolitionists, called neo-abolitionists, because their current efforts to wipe out sex trafficking and prostitution mirror similar efforts by reformers in the early twentieth century, also view individuals in the sex trade as victims. A coalition of feminists and Christians developed neo-abolitionist social policy during the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. CST and neo-abolitionist social policy share many of the same goals and beliefs, particularly with respect to reducing demand for sexual access and providing social and welfare supports for individuals leaving the sex trade. By working together to apply pressure to lawmakers and policy-makers on these issues, Catholics and neo-abolitionists can help to reduce demand, provide support to victims, and flip the stigma of the sex trade from the victims of the trade to the buyers who fuel it, and the pimps, madams, facilitators, and other investors who control it.

Keywords: Law and Policy; Human Trafficking; Sex Trafficking; Trafficking; Prostitution; Sex Workers; Catholic Social Teaching; CST; Trafficking Victims Protection Act; TVPA; TVPRA; Trafficking Protocol; U.N. Protocol

Suggested Citation

Donovan, Elizabeth M, Catholic Social Teaching and Neo-Abolitionism: Tearing Down the House of the Rising Sun (2019). Cleveland State Law Review, Vol. 67, No. 3, 2019, Available at SSRN:

Elizabeth M Donovan (Contact Author)

Eastern Michigan University ( email )

Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
United States
734.487.1218 (Phone)

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