Amendment Brings Justice to Peace Corps Volunteers Sexually Assaulted During Service

We’re thrilled that this morning, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) to provide life-saving federal benefits to Peace Corps volunteers who are sexually assaulted.

“More than half of these volunteers are women. They deserve the same access to comprehensive women’s health care as other women in federal service.”

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—faced this restriction.

“Peace Corps volunteers represent some of the best in American talent and determination in the world’s most challenging places,” said PAI President and CEO Suzanne Ehlers, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic. “More than half of these volunteers are women. They deserve the same access to comprehensive women’s health care as other women in federal service. We applaud the members of Congress who did the right thing and stood up for them today.”

The amendment passed by a voice vote. Last week, the Senate also approved a provision in the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill to remove this restriction. Since both the Senate and House bills have removed the ban, it should not be subject to further negotiation, and coverage for abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest should be available to Peace Corps volunteers once the final FY 2015 appropriations legislation is enacted into law later this year.

For more, read the full press statement from PAI President and CEO Suzanne Ehlers.

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