(PRESS RELEASE) Today the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved funding bills for FY14 eliminating restrictions on the District of Columbia's ability to use its own locally-raised funds to cover abortion for low-income women and ensuring Peace Corps volunteers are entitled to the same limited abortion coverage provided to all other federal workers.
Said Julianna Gonen, director of government relations at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
"Just as low-income women in D.C. deserve the same access to reproductive health care as women living elsewhere, women serving in the Peace Corps deserve the same basic coverage for reproductive health services as other women who receive federal health insurance coverage."
"For too long, women's health care coverage has been singled out and used as a political football in the federal budget process. Now is the time to finally address these unjust restrictions on abortion services for two populations of women who have been long subject to discrimination."
"We strongly urge all members of Congress to follow the Senate Appropriations Committee's lead and preserve these two critical steps in promoting equal health care coverage for both D.C. residents and Peace Corps volunteers."
Additionally, a bipartisan majority of the Senate committee approved an amendment prohibiting the re-imposition of the Global Gag Rule, a since-rescinded Bush-era policy preventing organizations from using non-U.S. funds to perform abortions except in very narrow circumstances.
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee advanced a version of an appropriations bill renewing the current politically-motivated policy denying over 70,000 non-elderly Medicaid-enrolled women in D.C. the comprehensive reproductive health care coverage they need—despite the fact that every other state in the U.S. has the right to provide such coverage and the policy is supported by the duly-elected City Council and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s congressional representative.
In addition to advocating equal coverage for Peace Corps volunteers through the appropriations process, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg recently introduced the Peace Corps Equity Act of 2013, a bill that would end the discriminatory policy prohibiting Peace Corps volunteers from receiving the same limited abortion coverage as virtually all other women receiving federal health benefits—including federal employees and women serving in the U.S. military.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama included both important policy fixes for women in D.C. and serving in the Peace Corps in his proposed FY2014 budget .