U.S. Foreign Assistance

A Common-Sense Fix for Peace Corps Volunteers

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Sen. Jeanne Shaheen introduced the bill in the Senate.

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 aim to fix a longstanding, unfair exclusion of Peace Corps volunteers from some life-saving federal health benefits.

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. It is unacceptable that any woman serving our country would be denied access to comprehensive health care and support services in the case of a sexual assault or life-threatening pregnancy.

A BIG thank you to Rep. Lowey and Sen. Shaheen for standing up for Peace Corps volunteers! Read our full statement from PAI President and CEO Suzanne Ehlers:

“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.

Rep. Nita Lowey introduced the bill in the House.
Rep. Nita Lowey introduced the bill in the House.

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.”

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