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Are pro-choice groups (i.e. those supporting legal abortion or extending the abortion rights) typically supportive of surrogate motherhood and/or prostitution? I am interested in groups and politicians who have taken clear stance on these issues (or clearly avoid taking stance on some of them, while supporting the other).

I suppose that, from the point of view og woman's rights to her body, the issues are equal. However, as many pro-abortion groups are left-wing, they might object the economic aspect of surrogate motherhood or prostitution. Yet, from the liberal point of view, this is no different from selling one's body when doing hard physical work or risking one's life in police/military/firefighting.

My guess is that the opposition to surrogacy and prostitution among anti-abortion groups is more consistent, since it is grounded in traditional and/or religious values, which are typically critical of all of them (perhaps less critical of surrogacy, which is a recent development.)

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    Why are you lumping together surrogate motherhood and/or prostitution, please? Jul 30, 2022 at 22:56
  • @RobbieGoodwin I think that the connection is quite clear: it both cases, laws have been passed restricting women from using their bodies as they wish. Jul 31, 2022 at 2:14
  • @RobbieGoodwin both are about women making choice about their body. Jul 31, 2022 at 6:23
  • There's a wide range of groups supporting abortion rights, across many countries. Most major European political parties at least somewhat support abortion rights. It would help if you could specify some restrictions e.g. specific organisations, or at least country, size of organisation, type of organisation (advocacy, provision of health services, political party), political position (predominantly libertarian organisations may take a different view to left-wing), etc. Otherwise we could list the position of hundreds of organisations.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 31, 2022 at 12:33
  • @StuartF Thank you for the comment. I am not really asking for a comprehensive list of the groups, but rather the typical trend. What mostly interests me is how these views are varying within the political spectrum and from a country to another. Jul 31, 2022 at 14:25

2 Answers 2

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Political advocacy groups are usually single-issue in order to not dilute their message and not exclude potential supporters for their primary cause who might object to another cause the group supports. So when an organization is primarily formed around one specific issue, then they usually avoid taking an official stance on an unrelated issue.

There are a lot of pro-choice advocacy groups in the United States, so mentioning them all would be an exercise in futility. So I am going to just look at a couple representative examples. I am focusing specifically on the US, because there is hardly another country in the world where abortion is such a dividing hot-button issue.

Center for Reproductive Rights

In their article on assisted reproduction, they state:

The Center’s work on assisted reproduction—including IVF, surrogacy, and embryo and gamete regulations—seeks to destigmatize infertility and ensure equitable access to infertility care.

So yes, they support surrogacy motherhood.

Looking for articles on their website containing the word "prostitution" doesn't give a lot of results, and the articles usually only mention the topic in a single sentence, usually in the context of forced prostitution. Which even pro-prostitution advocacy groups usually condemn. So no clear position here.

National Abortion Federation

This group appears to be clearly single-issue on the topic of advocating for the right to abortions, providing information on abortion and providing access to them. I could not find anything on any other political subject on their website.

Planned Parenthood

Although PP is most known for providing abortions, it's an organization which does a whole lot more than just that. It deals with almost all aspects of reproductive health care. Yet, their abortion services are what makes them the bogeyman of the pro-life movement. So their positions on abortions are in the spotlight of the pro-choice movement, whether they want it or not.

They describe gestational surrogacy as:

an option for women who do not want to or cannot carry a pregnancy. Surrogacy can entail use of the surrogate’s uterus and eggs or only her uterus.

As with their usual medial style, they inform and offer, but not advocate for or against specific options.

Regarding sex work: The glossary on their website acknowledge that it exists, but there are not many mentions of it on their website. All I could find is this secondary source (which appears to be critical of PP) which claims:

The clinic’s unofficial position on prostitution was identical to its stance concerning abortion. A woman had the right to choose what she did with her body. Period. End of story. We were trained to think that prostitution or stripping was as valid a choice for a woman as being a nurse or a lawyer.

I could also find this tweet from Planned Parenthood Toronto (so not the US branch) which says:

What is our position on #SexWork? Sex work is real work and we support sex workers’ rights. We believe that sex workers deserve sexual and reproductive health services that are inclusive, non-judgemental, and relevant to their needs.

Feminist Majority Foundation

The FMF is a catch-all Feminist organization which is also a major player in the pro-choice movement.

All I could find regarding surrogacy on their website is an article about the ban of surrogate motherhood in Italy which while not clearly advocating for surrogate motherhood, appears to be more favorable than unfavorable of it.

Their position on sex work appears to be ambiguous. Their website has only 3 articles tagged as "sex work". One of them is about a debate between Amnesty International and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women titled "Amnesty Votes on Policy to Decriminalize Sex Work, Sparks Feminist Debate". The article doesn't take a clear position, but judging by the amount of verbatim quotes in the article, they appears slightly more favorable of the position of the CATW to ban sex work than that of AI to legalize it.

NARAL - Pro Choice America

I could find some statements where Pro Choice America condemned opposition to surrogacy motherhood as a sign of being "anti-choice" and therefore worth condemning.

I could find some dossiers on their website where they summarize the positions of various district court attorney on the abortion debate:

Sarah Pitlyk:

Pitlyk has represented a number of anti-choice activist organizations in cases involving the validity of surrogacy agreements. In her briefs, Pitlyk stated that “[s]urrogacy raises an array of troubling issues.”

Barry Ashe:

Ashe served on the board of Christian Health Ministries Foundation (CHM) [...] According to its membership guidelines, CHM refuses to cover birth control, fertility treatment, surrogate procedures, sterilization, reversal procedures, and abortion

There is also a pamphlet "The insidious power of the anti-choice movement" which states:

These anti-choice activists have been working hard to set the stage for even more aggressive attacks on our reproductive freedom. [...] But as we’ve always said, reducing these players and this infrastructure to "anti-choice" is a misnomer as their ideology and their agenda exceeds well beyond ending legal abortion in our country. Even in areas of reproduction, they actively fight access to contraception, in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy.

So it appears that they consider opposition to surrogate motherhood an anti-choice position and therefore irreconcilable with their core issue.

I could not find anything which hints on their position on sex work.

tl;dr:

It appears that most organizations which are pro-choice also consider surrogacy motherhood a reproductive right worth protecting.

But their positions on sex work are usually ambiguous. And with those organizations within the movement who do have a position, those positions are not consistent between organizations.

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  • "So when an organization is primarily formed around one specific issue, then they usually avoid taking an official stance on an unrelated issue." While that might seem like a rational strategy, I have found that it is often not followed, especially on the Left. For instance, many chapters of BLM also advocate against capitalism and for LGBT. The ACLU for some reason got involved in the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp case. On the other side of the aisle, the Jan 6 protest was ostensibly about alleged election fraud, but for some reason many people brought Confederate flags. Jul 31, 2022 at 2:19
  • @acccumulation That last one makes a lot of sense symbolically, if you're familiar with US history at all. The states left the union right after Lincoln got elected, in protest. The situation being slightly different though as Lincoln won the election without winning a single state in the south and without getting a single vote in 90% of counties in the south.
    – uberhaxed
    Jul 31, 2022 at 4:49
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    @Acccumulation ACLU is hardly a "one issue organization". The name may suggest that they only care about civil liberties, but they've expanded way beyond that.
    – Barmar
    Jul 31, 2022 at 19:10
  • "Regarding sex work: The glossary on [Planned Parenthood's] website acknowledge that it exists, but there are not many mentions of it on their website" - which makes sense, because it's an organisation dedicated to planning parenthood, which doesn't have much to do with sex work (similarly for the Center for Reproductive Rights). Sex work is too distinct from abortion to really expect groups related to one to have official positions on the other (although they may have a position on it by the same logic that such groups may have a position on BLM).
    – NotThatGuy
    Aug 1, 2022 at 9:04
  • @NotThatGuy Planned Parenthood is not just about family planning. It's a reproductive healthcare provider which doesn't judge based on moral values, making it a fitting provider for sex workers.
    – Philipp
    Aug 1, 2022 at 9:40
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Some more data points on the policies on these topics in several Western European countries. As these are democracies one can assume that the current rules are broadly in line with what the majority believes is appropriate and reasonable.

First abortion (at an early stage of the pregnancy) is generally legal and available. It may require some consultation talks but is also paid for as part of general health care.

The laws on prostitution are very divided. In Sweden and Denmark it is illegal. In Belgium and the Netherlands it is legal and in the open.

Paid surrogate motherhood is illegal in all Western European countries. People who want to use this sometimes travel to the US or to countries in East Asia and get a child carried out there.

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    Thanks. In fact the question arouse after a recent suggestion by a mainstream French party (Les Republicains) to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting surrogacy (it is already illegal, but there are probably loopholes, if it is done abroad.) Jul 31, 2022 at 10:05
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    This doesn't seem quite right. The Wikipedia map says the "altruistic" version is legal in the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal. So you you must have a rather narrow conception of either the ban or Western Europe. Jul 31, 2022 at 15:37
  • @Fizz I meant 'paid surrogate motherhood' in the sense of some service that one can purchase. Making some kind of deal with a friend is of course possible although I would doubt one could make a legally binding contract that a pregnant woman gives her baby up for adoption to some other person.
    – quarague
    Jul 31, 2022 at 16:11

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