For Immediate Release
May 6, 2014
PEACE CORPS EQUITY ACT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE VOLUNTEERS LIFE-SAVING FEDERAL HEALTH BENEFITS THEY DESERVE
Statement by PAI President and CEO Suzanne Ehlers
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Peace Corps Equity Act in the House and the Senate. The bills represent an opportunity to rectify the arbitrary exclusion of Peace Corps volunteers from life-saving federal health benefits. Peace Corps volunteers provide an invaluable service to the United States, helping to foster peace and development around the world. Yet, since 1979, a federal mandate on the Peace Corps has prohibited them from covering the cost of an abortion for volunteers—even in the cases of rape, incest and life endangerment. No other federal employees—including Peace Corps employees— face this unacceptable restriction.
More than half of Peace Corps volunteers are female. If any woman serving our country faces a sexual assault or a life-threatening pregnancy, she should be able to access comprehensive health care and support services. A decades-old congressional restriction should not stand in the way of a woman receiving a procedure that is safe and legal in the United States—and that could be the difference between life and death. We applaud Rep. Lowey and Sen. Shaheen for their leadership on this issue. It’s time for Congress to do the right thing and pass the Peace Corps Equity Act.
Contact: Dilly Severin, Director of Communications