Jonathan Pearson, Advocate for the National Peace Corps Association, is reporting:
“Tuesday night, as President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion appropriations bill to fund most of the federal government for the remainder of the current fiscal year, one very small component of the bill means fairer treatment for female Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs). Included in the Peace Corps section of the 1,600 page spending package is corrective language that will implement the provisions of the Peace Corps Equity Act (S. 2291; H.R. 4578). The legislation was designed to support PCVs the same as others serving our nation overseas, should a Volunteer seek to terminate a pregnancy in the rare instances of rape, incest or life endangerment.”
Here is the link to read his entire article: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/2014/12/peace-corps-equity-victory/
Why is this important?
The Hyde Amendment passed in the 70s stipulated that no federal funding could be used for abortion services except in the rare instances of rape, incest or life endangerment. This meant that federal employees whose insurance and/or medical care was funded by the government could not receive abortion services through that funding except for the specified exceptions. Female federal employees and female dependents of federal employees have been covered by this exception since the law was passed. Recently, Congress passed legislation to offer the same exception to female members of the military and their female dependents.
Because of the unique legal status of “Volunteer”, female Peace Corps Volunteers were not included and could not receive services under this exception. It did not matter that female Volunteers also took an oath to serve their country; or that they received no salary just a small living allowance; that they served in situations that could make them medically and physically vulnerable; and, of course, never were armed and were dependent on others for protection. The passage of the language of the Peace Corps Equity Act finally brings female Volunteers under the protection of this law of the country that they have committed to serve. Again, it was the advocacy efforts of the RPCV community that finally brought this injustice to an end.