FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
202.667.5881; 202.595.4395 (after hours/cell)
Statement of Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF):
This morning, the House Committee on Appropriations voted to ensure that women in the Peace Corps have the same access to abortion care in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment as other Federal employees and servicewomen. We applaud Ranking Member Lowey and the rest of the committee, including Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Reps. Farr and Honda, for their commitment to Peace Corps Volunteers.
There is no justification for denying Peace Corps Volunteers access to the same health care coverage as other women in federal service. Since 1979, annual appropriations acts have restricted abortion coverage for Peace Corps Volunteers even in cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman’s life. This policy is not in line with other federal health insurance programs, many of which cover abortion care in these limited circumstances.
Women make up more than 60 percent of the more than 8,000 Peace Corps Volunteers who devote their time and energy in service to people around the world. These brave and selfless Americans rely on the government for the rest of their health care and should not be denied the same coverage for abortion care as other Federal employees.
A recent study of women’s personal experiences with abortion while serving in the Peace Corps concluded that “lifting the federal restrictions on abortion coverage in cases of rape, whether through the appropriations process or a stand-alone bill, would be consistent with this overarching effort to respond better to the needs of sexual assault survivors serving in the Peace Corps.” More than 97 percent of the study’s participants supported efforts to extend health care coverage in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.
We are grateful that today Representative Lowey and the Appropriations Committee took an important step toward fixing this longstanding inequity.
Last week, the Senate Committee on Appropriations included the same bipartisan language in their Fiscal Year 2015 State and Foreign Operations spending bill. Both bills must now be approved by the full House and Senate before being sent to President Obama for his signature. President Obama has included this coverage equity in his budget for the last two years.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women. Our members include private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for more than half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia.