NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–April 25, 2013. Today Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Peace Corps Equity Act of 2013, a federal bill that would end the discriminatory policy prohibiting Peace Corps volunteers from receiving abortion coverage in the cases of rape, life endangerment of the woman, and incest. Virtually all other women receiving federal health care coverage—from federal employees to immigration detainees to women serving in the military—are eligible for abortion coverage in these limited instances.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Peace Corps volunteers who are faced with terrible circumstances like sexual assault or a life-threatening pregnancy shouldn’t also be faced with the often far-reaching consequences of being unable to pay for basic health care. They deserve the same basic coverage as all other women who receive federal health care.
“We applaud Senator Lautenberg and the co-sponsors of this legislation for their leadership in finally ending this discriminatory policy for women serving in the Peace Corps.
“Just as Congress took historic action last year to ensure women in the U.S. military have basic reproductive health care coverage in cases of rape or incest, members of the House and Senate must support and pass this bill swiftly to protect the fundamental human rights of women serving our country in the Peace Corps.”
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama included this long-overdue fix to permit coverage for abortion services for Peace Corps volunteers in the narrow cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest in his proposed FY2014 budget.
Peace Corps volunteers—more than 60 percent of whom are women—are the only group of federal civil servants denied coverage for abortion services in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. This January, President Obama signed into law the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including a provision introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) lifting restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion care in cases of rape and incest for servicewomen and military family members. The NDAA, including the Shaheen Amendment, passed through Congress in December 2012 with bipartisan support.