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Please begin with an informative title:

Since 1979, every appropriations act signed into law funding the U.S. Peace Corps has contained a provision forbidding the organization from paying for abortions for Peace Corps Volunteers under any circumstances, even when the pregnancy is the result of rape or when it puts the life of the woman at risk. Almost every other federal government program that provides or subsidizes health care covers abortion in cases of rape, incest, or severe health risk to the woman. Federal employees and their families covered under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program have limited abortion coverage. So do members of the military and their families covered by TRICARE, as do federal prison inmates, people who receive health care from the Indian Health Service, and Medicaid beneficiaries. But Peace Corps Volunteers do not. This week, the Peace Corps Equity Act of 2014 was introduced in the House and the Senate to change this.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) (govtrack.us of Senate version) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY17) (govtrack.us of the House version) would provide Peace Corps Volunteers serving overseas--60% of whom are women, mostly in their 20s--with abortion coverage equal to that offered by most other federal health care programs.*

Intro

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I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. I spent two years in the early '90s working on design and construction of drinking water systems in rural villages 8000 feet up in the Andes of northern Ecuador. Peace Corps Volunteers don't save the world, but they do good work. I am fortunate that I do not have a personal story of rape and pregnancy, but Christine Carcano, who served in Peru just a few years ago, does. When she didn't have money to pay for an abortion after she was raped, the mother of a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer sent her $500 for the procedure. According to RH Reality Check:

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.

“I felt it in every part of my body,” she said. “What was already a traumatic experience was made all the more painful due directly to my financial limitations.” The entire ordeal was “blow after blow after blow,” she said, from being raped, to not wanting to tell anyone about it, to being forced to do so after testing positive for a sexually transmitted disease, to finding out she was pregnant, and finally being told that her medical coverage would include travel and other costs, but not an abortion itself.

Peace Corps's policy on coverage for abortions probably only directly affects a few dozen women every year. But for those women, it really, really matters.

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* I'm not a big fan of the rape and incest provisions in federal policies regarding abortion coverage because I don't think that insurance coverage for a medical procedure should be governed by the behavior of the man who got the woman pregnant. However, I accept that it's a winning position in American politics and my position--that all abortions should be covered--is not.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to AnitaMaria on Fri May 09, 2014 at 01:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism and Community Spotlight.

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