Is Tim Kaine Really Anti-Abortion? What You Need To Know About This Issue
At first glance, Sen. Tim Kaine seems like a solid — if a little underwhelming — vice-presidential pick for Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. On most issues, from immigration reform to the environment, Kaine and Clinton look like a match. But there's been one issue where Kaine has come under fire from his fellow Democrats: abortion. While Clinton has long been a fiercely pro-choice politician, Kaine's stance on abortion rights has been heavily scrutinized. As the former Virginia governor attempts to win over pro-choice Americans this week, let's take a look at his complicated history with abortion rights.
A practicing Catholic, Kaine has said in the past that he is personally against abortion. Fine — so is fellow Catholic and current Vice President Joe Biden, who is also a staunch supporter of reproductive rights. Someone who is personally opposed to abortion can be in favor of legal abortion and fair access to abortion. So, does Kaine then deserve headlines such as this one from BBC News: "Tim Kaine: The Spanish-speaking, anti-abortion Democratic senator"?
Slate.com also labeled Kaine "anti-abortion." And how about this headline from Politico, published earlier in July: "Tim Kaine's abortion predicament."
Meanwhile, Kaine has been praised by several reproductive rights groups, including NARAL and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said Friday in a statement:
Senator Kaine is a thoughtful running mate with integrity, whose Senate record has proven he will stand strong against politically motivated efforts to restrict patient access to critical, often lifesaving health care. Senator Kaine has made it clear that he will protect women from government interference when it comes to their right to safe, legal abortion...and boasts a 100% rating on the Planned Parenthood Action Fund scorecard.
So, what's the deal with Kaine and abortion? Does he truly support access to abortion?
Just last week, Kaine affirmed in a CNN interview that he is a "strong supporter of Roe v. Wade and women being able to make these decisions." Kaine, too, rejected the label "pro-life," saying that labels just aren't his thing. So, he wouldn't call himself pro-choice, either.
But does Kaine really need to embrace a label? He seems to have the whole "choice" part down of pro-choice, anyway. "We don't need to make people's reproductive decisions for them," Kaine told CNN.
When he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012, Kaine reiterated his support for legal abortion. His official Kaine for Virginia website shared this powerful statement on abortion rights:
I strongly support the right of women to make their own health and reproductive decisions and, for that reason, will oppose efforts to weaken or subvert the basic holding of Roe v. Wade. We all share the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The right way to do this is through education and access to health care and contraception rather than criminalizing women's reproductive decisions.
Where Kaine receives the most criticism is not on his traditional Catholic values, but his past support of parental consent and informed consent laws for teenage girls and women undergoing abortions. In 2008, Kaine told ABC News that he advocated for informed consent laws that provide "women information about a whole series of things, the health consequences, et cetera, and information about adoption."
While Kaine doesn't want to criminalize abortion — or restrict it to the point that it's inaccessible — he has approved policies that do make abortion more stressful, time-consuming, and possibly prohibitive to teenagers and women. Is it right to label Kaine anti-abortion? No, but maybe Clinton should keep an eye out when it comes to any abortion policies.