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July 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – As more than two dozen Democrats compete for the party’s nomination to run against President Donald Trump next year, several have found themselves confronted with the question of whether to legalize prostitution, and have either endorsed or refused to dismiss the idea.

CBS News reports that the field is currently struggling with the once-taboo proposal, an indicator that the Democrat Party’s social liberalism extends well beyond the candidates’ uniformly left-wing views on abortion and LGBT issues.

The candidates who have come out in favor of decriminalizing “sex work” so far include Sens. Kamala Harris (a reversal of her stance as a former prosecutor) and Cory Booker, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and former Sen. Mike Gravel. “The real question here is what will make sex workers safer and reduce exploitation, and abundant evidence points to decriminalization,” Booker claimed.

Sen. Bernie Sanders recently said he would “take a hard look at it” but was unprepared to offer a “definitive answer,” citing the potential ramifications for sex trafficking. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke said he was unsure, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she was “open to decriminalization” but didn’t want to “undermine legal protections for the most vulnerable.”

When BuzzFeed surveyed the 2020 candidates in May, only New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was opposed to decriminalization. Most either refused to respond or gave “noncommittal” answers.

Among those pushing the candidates to the left on the issue is the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP), a prostitution-legalization group whose executive director Christa Daring told CBS the Democrats’ answers were “encouraging” to her cause. “At this point, the most humane and strategic thing that will reduce the most amount of harm is simply to remove laws against prostitution and loitering,” she claimed.

Others passionately disagree. Rachel Moran, an author and former prostitute, argues that when sex work becomes legal, “there is no incentive for the government to provide exit strategies for those who want to get out of it.”

“It’s nonsense to say a person can be empowered by allowing their body to be as open to the public as a train or bus station. And consent requires viable choices and alternatives,” she says. “When prostitution is socially endorsed, the market expands. Where are these new bodies coming from? Young women with choices are not going to say, ‘I’ll go into the sex trade instead of going to college.’ No. Socially disadvantaged young girls are funneled straight into prostitution.”

The Democrat primary field’s refusal to oppose prostitution is only the latest sign of efforts to legitimize the world’s oldest profession. Last month, Teen Vogue published an article by pro-abortion activist Tlaleng Mofokeng declaring that “sex work is real work,” and that the “idea of purchasing intimacy and paying for the services can be affirming for many people who need human connection, friendship, and emotional support.”