Abortion Coverage for Peace Corps Volunteers Who Are Raped Might Finally Happen

What Women Really Think
June 24 2014 5:17 PM

Abortion Coverage for Peace Corps Volunteers Who Are Raped Might Finally Happen

Peace Corps volunteers in Cambodia
Peace Corps volunteers make an offering to Buddhist monks in Cambodia.

Photo by Chor Sokunthea/Reuters,Reuters Picture Stream/MED

In a small but important victory for reproductive rights Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the budget for foreign aid and State Department operations that allows for Peace Corps volunteers to get abortion coverage in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. A Senate committee approved a bill with the same language last week, so now the budget will go for a full vote.

Volunteering for the Peace Corps means receiving a very small stipend and also federal health insurance coverage. But since 1979, Peace Corps volunteers have been barred from any abortion coverage. While most federal health insurance bans abortion, there are usually exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. This bill would extend that exception to the Peace Corps.

Advertisement

This amendment comes on the heels of a poll of Peace Corps volunteers conducted by researchers from the University of Ottawa, Cambridge Reproductive Health Consultants, and the Office of Population Research at Princeton University in which five percent of female respondents said they had an abortion and nine percent experienced sexual assault during their time volunteering, even though they weren't necessarily the same women. RH Reality Check interviewed one unlucky woman who was impregnated by her assailant:

Carcano, like many Peace Corps volunteers, subsisted on a meager stipend. She only made $300 per month, and the procedure would cost at least $500. The check from her friend’s mother allowed Carcano to have the procedure, she said, but it limited her options medically—she could only afford the smallest amount of anesthesia possible. Her doctors said it would be OK, but she said no injury she’s had in life compares to the “searing pain” of that procedure.

While most women who need abortions are not sexual assault victims, this amendment could help women like Carcano get the care they need while serving their country.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Nicolas Sarkozy, Thrice Married, Says Gay Marriage Humiliates the Family

  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 22 2014 4:06 PM No, Women’s Soccer Does Not Have a Domestic Violence Problem Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 3:16 PM Watch the Best Part of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.