The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday voted to allow abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in limited circumstances, indicating bipartisan support for a measure that the Senate Appropriations Committee voted for last week.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), would lift a discriminatory, decades-old restriction and bring the House’s bill in line with the Senate’s. Under current law, Peace Corps volunteers, who typically make about $300 per month, cannot receive insurance coverage for abortion care under any circumstance. Other federally insured people such as federal employees, women receiving health-care assistance through Medicaid, and military servicewomen can receive coverage in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. This policy change would allow Peace Corps volunteers coverage in those same exceptional cases.
According to a recent report, the current policy has created difficulties for sexual assault survivors, and 97 percent of returning volunteers surveyed thought the policy should be changed.
“What was already a traumatic experience was made all the more painful due directly to my financial limitations,” Christine Carcano, a volunteer who became pregnant from rape during her Peace Corps service in Peru, told RH Reality Check last month.
“We applaud Congress for finally doing the right thing and standing behind the women who have stood up for our country,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement.