Bicameral legislation would extend basic reproductive health care benefits to Peace Corps volunteers
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and U.S. Representative Nita Lowey (NY-17) today re-introduced the bipartisan Peace Corps Equity Act in the Senate and House which would extend basic reproductive health care services to all Peace Corp volunteers. Currently, female Peace Corps volunteers –unlike most women with federal health care coverage – are denied abortion coverage in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is endangered. The legislation would bring the Peace Corps policy in line with other federal government health benefits and picks up on an effort started by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who was a champion for women in the Peace Corps and reproductive rights. The Peace Corps Equity Act has 27 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate and 4 cosponsors in the House.
“Extending basic reproductive health care services to female Peace Corps volunteers is long overdue,” Shaheen said. “Peace Corps volunteers face inherent risks living and working abroad and there’s no reason they should be denied standard health care services offered to most women with federal health care coverage. It’s an honor to continue the fight started by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg and I hope we can come together in congress to right this wrong on behalf of all female Peace Corps volunteers.”
“This is about fairness – fairness for American ambassadors working in every corner of the world to save and change lives,” Lowey said. “It is absolutely unconscionable that female Peace Corps volunteers who are victims of sexual assault, or whose pregnancies endanger their lives, are not afforded the same health care access as virtually all other women with federal health coverage. They deserve our steadfast support, and I am working closely with my colleagues and former Peace Corps volunteers Representatives Farr, Honda, Kennedy, and Garamendi to give our volunteers the health care coverage they need to continue serving our country.”
While employees of the Peace Corps are provided with abortion services in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is endangered, this coverage is not extended to volunteers. The Peace Corps Equity Act would extend these important protections to all Peace Corps volunteers.