In a recent opinion piece, the New York Times praises a new policy—passed in December as part of the federal spending bill—that will ease the longstanding and inhumane blanket ban on abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers.
Until only a few weeks ago, U.S. law prevented Peace Corps volunteers—nearly two thirds of whom are female—from receiving any coverage for abortion care, even in cases of rape or life endangerment. The budgetary fix will now extend the same limited abortion coverage to Peace Corps volunteers that is available to all federal employees, women receiving health care assistance through Medicaid, and military servicewomen.
Although long overdue, the Peace Corps fix is a significant reproductive rights victory, and the Times urges President Obama to “follow up this laudable change with another one: getting rid of a similar blanket ban governing the use of American foreign aid.”
The “similar blanket ban” in question is a 40-year old U.S. policy known as the Helms Amendment. Since 1973, Helms has restricted the use of foreign aid to pay for abortions overseas, even in countries where abortion is legal.
The New York Times, along with a number of human rights groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights, calls on the president to “set matters straight” by ceasing to implement Helms as an all-out ban.