April 25, 2013

Senate Bill Proposes Coverage for Abortions in Cases of Rape, Incest, or Life Endangerment

April 25, 2013

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced the Peace Corps Equity Act today, which addresses a decades-old policy that prohibits the Peace Corps from covering abortion services for its volunteers and trainees without exceptions. Unlike other women who rely on the federal government for their health insurance — including Peace Corps employees — volunteers are denied coverage for abortion, even when a woman's life is endangered or she's the victim of rape or incest.

"Peace Corps volunteers selflessly sacrifice their time and energy to help communities in developing countries, and it's time we stop asking them to sacrifice basic health care coverage as well," said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, ACLU policy counsel. "All women should have the reproductive health care coverage they need, whatever their situation, but at the very least, no volunteer should have to put her life in danger because she does not have the same coverage for abortion care that is provided to Peace Corps employees. The Peace Corps Equity Act does the important work of restoring equity and fairness to Peace Corps volunteers by ensuring that, at a minimum, they have abortion coverage in dire circumstances, just as other women who work for the federal government do."

More than 60 percent of current Peace Corps volunteers are women. President Obama recommended that Congress no longer withhold abortion coverage for them in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment in his budget released earlier this month.

Congress passed a defense authorization bill last year which included the Shaheen Amendment, a similar provision that expanded abortion coverage to U.S. servicewomen and military dependents who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

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