04.26.1312:30 PM ET

Calls for Reform in Peace Corps’s Abortion Coverage

If a volunteer is raped, she has to pay for abortion herself—despite that other federal health-insurance programs cover that cost.

New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg introduced a bill in Congress to provide health-insurance coverage for Peace Corps volunteers who are raped—which would fall in line with the government’s coverage for women in the military, federal employees and Medicaid. Even women who are on paid Peace Corps staff do not have to pay for an abortion if she is raped. Volunteers have been prevented from health coverage for abortion since 1979, when Congress attached the stipulation to a funding bill for the humanitarian agency. In recent years, female Peace Corps volunteers have begun speaking more openly about sexual assault while they serve overseas—causing many women’s advocacy groups to become involved. Lautenberg called it “unacceptable that their own country restricts their access to health care.”