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Crash Pad Blog

Stop AB 1576 – Mandatory Condoms in Porn


by CrashPad performer Emma Claire

I’m currently drafting a statement to assemblymembers in opposition to California bill AB 1576, more commonly referred to as “mandatory condom use in adult films.”

If passed, the bill would require these major tasks for on-screen porn performance:

  • Use of “protective equipment” with “vaginal and anal intercourse.”
  • Continual HIV and STI testing as defined by Center for Disease Control and California Dept. of Public Health recommendations.
  • Companies must keep HIV and STI records of performers in accordance with HIPAA.
  • Companies must pay for HIV and STI testing for performers.

For those who have a public health hat on, this bill would make a lot of sense to reduce HIV and STI transmission among porn performers. However, the reality is that porn performers have incredibly low rates of infection compared to the public at large. I believe this is because those performing in porn want to reduce sexual risks because, well, that’s your moneymaker. There’s also a very effective self-imposed industry standard of testing every 14 days that many major porn companies adhere to.

So what is at stake?

  1. This law will take away performer agency. As someone invested in harm reduction and feminist beliefs, this law will take away my choice to use condoms and to portray sex how I want to.
  2. This law doesn’t clearly state what kind of “protective equipment.” This scares some folks in the industry to think that the law may be interpreted beyond having someone with a fleshy penis use a condom for vaginal and anal sex. If strict OSHA standards were put into place, this would mean that all blood borne pathogens need to be protected against. That means dental dams and condoms for oral sex, gloves, and even googles in case someone’s cum gets on or near your eyes.
  3. This law will infringe on performers privacy and increases company liability. There is currently a huge question on the constitutionality of having the state knowing performers sexual health. Any Jane or Dick shooting a porno in California will need to have your health information on file. Also, some performers simply don’t want their status or health info shared anywhere. For example, some gay porn studios have a mandatory condom rule for shoots so that no one needs to discuss HIV and STI status. This law will take away that privacy.
  4. This law will drive out porn companies. Unfortunately, capitalism tells businesses to move where there are less restrictions on the ability to make a good product. Viewers want to see bareback sex. And companies will not be happy to provide testing services, sometimes at $240 through Talent Testing, every 14 days for performers. People have already lost jobs in Los Angeles County after Measure B passed in 2012, and people all over California will continue to do so if AB 1576 passes.
  5. This law will not significantly reduce HIV transmission. Since 2004, no on-set transmission of HIV between performers has been recorded. Before that, the last on-set transmission was in 2000. The bill calls for testing “not more than 14 days prior to filming any scene” but doesn’t stipulate what kind of HIV test (i.e., RNA, antigen, antibody, etc.). 14-day testing already happens under self-imposed industry standards, and the system of quarantine and linkage to care already works. It’s a waste of resources to police a system that already works.

There’s also a question of how testing will be required of smaller, independent porn companies in California. An aide for Assemblymember Hall spoke on not having anything “prescriptive” for testing protocol, but one still wonders how it will effect the viability of indie porn companies to adhere to these laws.

One stipulation I do like about the bill is the requirement to have porn companies pay for testing costs. Having the worker pay for tests every 14 days through Talent Testing (formerly Adult Industry Medical or AIM) is a huge expense. If your company is participating in Talent Testing, then that’s analogous to requiring a uniform or protective wear for your employees. The company should foot the bill.

There are a several things I’m not happy about with Talent Testing, but I’d much rather have the system in place than a law that is even more restrictive and punitive.

Bottom line: AB 1576 does more to hurt than help sex workers.

The bill is currently back in the Appropriations Committee in the California Assembly. For other talking points against AB 1576, please stay tuned to the Free Speech Coalition. If you’re a porn performer, you can sign a petition opposing AB 1576 here. You can find the full text of AB 1576 here.

About the Author:
Emma Claire (@theemmaclaire) has appeared in mainstream trans and independent queer porn, works as a harm reduction HIV/STI counselor, and is a sex worker activist in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Related:
Keep Queer Porn Legal in California: An Open Letter by Pink & White Productions
AB 1576: The Price of Cum in California by Syd Blakovich




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