This morning, the House Appropriations Committee voted to fix a decades-long injustice denying health care coverage for abortion to Peace Corps volunteers who face a life-endangering pregnancy, or one resulting from rape or incest. An amendment offered by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) passed on a voice vote.
Since 1979, a federal mandate on the Peace Corps has prohibited them from covering the cost of an abortion for volunteers, even in the narrow cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. No other federal employees—including Peace Corps employees—face this restriction.
As you can see in the above video from the Center for Reproductive Rights, this policy is an unfair burden on volunteers who face unwanted pregnancy after a sexual assault. More than half of Peace Corps volunteers are women. Though they should never have to face the tragedy of a sexual assault, if they do, they should be able to access comprehensive health care and support.
Last week, the Senate also approved a provision in the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill to remove this harmful restriction. With today’s vote, it seems like its days are numbered. Thank you, Rep. Lowey and House appropriators, for doing the right thing and standing with Peace Corps volunteers today!