Peace Corps Equity Act would extend abortion coverage to volunteers

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Senator Lautenberg quote

Ipas fully supports the Peace Corps Equity Act that would ensure women serving in the Peace Corps have the same coverage for abortion services as other federal employees.

The act, introduced April 25 by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), provides a small technical fix to the current policy that denies Peace Corps volunteers and trainees coverage for abortion services even in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. There is no rational basis for denying Peace Corps volunteers and trainees access to safe and legal abortion, a benefit that is extended to federal employees—including the Peace Corps employees who work with these volunteers.

“As a former Peace Corps volunteer myself, I believe strongly that no woman serving in the Peace Corps should face life endangerment because she cannot access a medical procedure that is safe and legal in America,” says Ipas Director of Development Katie O. Early. “Women in the Peace Corps are serving their country and deserve to be able to make their own reproductive health-care decisions without restriction.”

More than 60 percent of the more than 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers are women, who face inherent risks to their safety and security by virtue of living and working abroad. While they should never have to face the tragedy of sexual assault, if they do, Ipas believes they should be able to access comprehensive health care and support services.

Since fiscal year 1979, annual appropriations acts have prohibited the Peace Corps from covering abortion services for its volunteers and trainees. Peace Corps volunteers are now one of the only groups of women who receive their health-care services through the federal government who are denied coverage for abortion services. A similar ban on abortion coverage for women in the military was repealed when President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, which contained an amendment extending insurance coverage for abortion to military women who become pregnant as the result of rape or incest.