Tim Kaine's Shaky History With Sex Education

by Melissa Cruz

Despite representing different parties, there is one area where the vice presidential running mates have fallen disturbingly in line: the topic of abstinence-only education. And as Hillary Clinton's VP pick, Tim Kaine has particularly drawn the err of progressives for his shaky history with abstinence-only education.

Though Kaine's stances on both abortion and abstinence-only education have become more lenient since becoming a senator in 2012, sex education advocates often point to his time as Virginia governor as evidence of his right-leaning ideology on the topic. His time as governor, from 2006 to 2010, was decidedly anti-choice. He ran on the platform of promoting abstinence-only sex education in schools in 2005, and vowed to pass a ban on "partial-birth abortions," a promise he later upheld as governor.

For his time in office, reproductive rights advocacy group NARAL rated his record as "mixed choice." He doubled down on anti-choice rhetoric by signing a bill that created "Choose Life" license plates and approved funding for "pregnancy crisis centers," which have been known to use deceptive tactics to discourage women from receiving abortions.

Still, there was some indication of the more progressive stances Kaine has taken while in the senate. In 2007, the Virginia governor slashed state funding for abstinence-only sex education, citing recent studies that found teenagers should instead be taught about using protection.


Kaine has since seemed to have a reversal of his stances. While he admits that he is personally against abortion due to his Catholic faith, he has nevertheless fought for pro-choice positions in the Senate. NARAL also released a statement giving Kaine their seal of approval as Clinton's VP pick. The statement, in part, reads:

While Senator Kaine has been open about his personal reservations about abortion, he’s maintained a 100% pro-choice voting record in the U.S. Senate. He voted against dangerous abortion bans, he has fought against efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and he voted to strengthen clinic security by establishing a federal fund for it.

So while some progressive advocates are still understandably skeptical of Kaine, his growing acceptance of sex-inclusive education, as well as reproductive rights at large, is definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully he'll be able to show and stand for this shift come debate night.