The Hill: Far from home, Peace Corps volunteers deserve equal reproductive health care coverage

By Julianna Gonen

"Buried within the labyrinth that is the Congressional appropriations process lies a federal policy that has been discriminating against, harming, and disrespecting women serving in the Peace Corps for decades.

Unlike virtually all other women receiving federal health care coverage—from federal employees to immigration detainees to women serving in the military—Peace Corps volunteers are strictly prohibited from receiving any coverage for abortion, even if they’ve been sexually assaulted or their lives are at risk.

This discriminatory policy has had devastating consequences for far too many women who, despite committing two years abroad to help improve the lives of people in developing areas around the world, have been forsaken by the very country they serve.

More than 60 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are women and more than 1,000 of those women have reported being sexually assaulted over the last decade. Brave former Peace Corps volunteers have recently spoken out publicly to tell their own stories of the humiliation and pain they’ve endured, not just from the assault itself and the traumatic experience of potentially facing an unintended pregnancy, but also from later being betrayed by the U.S. government after being told that if they needed an abortion, they would have to pay for it with their own limited stipend."

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