Sex and the Presidential Candidates

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Women’s Enews notes:


  • Joe Biden supports “age-appropriate” and comprehensive sex education but the Delaware senator has also voted to fund abstinence programs.
  • Hillary Clinton has favored abstinence-plus for a decade. In 1996 as first lady she helped launch the teen pregnancy campaign, which has a goal of reducing teen pregnancy by one-third by 2015 through comprehensive education and awareness. Ten years later, as New York senator, she introduced the Prevention First Act, which would have allocated $100 million for family planning services in an effort to curb teen pregnancy.
  • Chris Dodd’s Web site says the Connecticut senator is “appalled” by the Bush administration’s abstinence-only programs.
  • John Edwards promotes comprehensive sex education according to his Web site. The former North Carolina senator’s campaign did not return phone calls.
  • Mike Gravel, former senator from Alaska, said he favored comprehensive sex education in a questionnaire he returned to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group.
  • Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the only presidential candidate who is a co-sponsor of the Responsible Education About Life Act that emphasizes comprehensive programs.
  • Illinois Sen. Barack Obama introduced the Communities of Color Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2007 in Illinois. He respects abstinence as a choice but also advocates age-appropriate comprehensive sex education.
  • New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson favors abstinence-plus.


  • Rudi Giuliani, the only Republican candidate still waffling about his pro-choice stance, avoids the topic. He talks about increasing adoptions and decreasing abortions but is mum on sex education. As New York City mayor for eight years, he presided over a major free condom distribution campaign that included public schools. A campaign spokesperson says Giuliani’s stance can be compared to what he says about education in general: “The enforcer of standards should . . . be the parent.”
  • John McCain promotes abstinence-only programs but the Arizona senator has previously promoted comprehensive sex education.
  • Mitt Romney promoted abstinence education in Massachusetts classrooms as governor of that state from 2003 to 2007. Romney mentioned this in the May South Carolina debates to show his credentials as a “clear and consistent conservative.” Alex Burgos, a campaign staffer, said Romney believes schools should “promote abstinence as part of their health curriculum and teach that marriage comes before babies.” Romney, however, checked a box saying he supported comprehensive sex education in a 2002 Planned Parenthood candidate survey.
  • Fred Thompson, former Tennessee senator, backs abstinence education.
  • Duncan Hunter, California representative, favors “equal emphasis” on abstinence. He wants to give abstinence the same amount of teaching as the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Mike Huckabee favors abstinence-only and opposes abstinence-plus. In response to a question asking whether his religious beliefs would allow him to support AIDS prevention in Africa that might include contraception, the Arkansas governor compared it with domestic violence and said compromising on either issue is not an option. “We don’t say that a little domestic violence is OK, just cut it down a little, just don’t hit quite as hard,” says the former Arkansas governor. “We say it’s wrong.”
  • Ron Paul, the Texas representative, favors abstinence-only programs.
  • Tom Tancredo, the Colorado representative, favors abstinence-only programs.
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0 Responses to Sex and the Presidential Candidates

  1. star2007 says:

    What is the difference between “absitence plus” and “comprehensive sex education?” The terminology here is a little confusing.

  2. star2007 says:

    What is the difference between “abstience plus” and “comprehensive sex education?” The terminology is a little confusing.

  3. Ann Bartow says:

    The linked article says: “The following month a congressional study found that abstinence-only education–which emphasizes chastity, or abstaining from sex, as the best practice for teens–did not significantly delay their decisions whether to have sex.” It also notes: “Out of that tug of war, compromisers have for a couple of years been promoting a middle way: “abstinence-plus,” which mentions abstinence within a broader discussion of safe sex.” I have to assume that “comprehensive sex education” is pretty much what it sounds like, see e.g.: