The Senate Saturday passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that included expanded abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in case of rape, incest, and when the life of the parent is threatened.
The Senate’s Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act brings w0rkers’ health care coverage in line with all federal employees, and lifts a 35-year ban on federal funding for abortion in case of rape, incest, or life endangerment for Peace Corps volunteers. Before now, Peace Corps volunteers were the only recipients of government-sponsored insurance that were banned from receiving abortion care under designated emergency circumstances. President Barack Obama has included the same expanded abortion care provisions for Peace Corps volunteers in his budget proposal for the last several years, but those efforts were blocked by Republicans. Earlier this year, for the first time, a standalone bill was introduced in the House on behalf of the more than 60 percent-female organization, but the new rider will go into effect when the President signs the Cromnibus.
“Every woman should have the reproductive coverage she needs, and the brave women of the Peace Corps should no longer be unfairly targeted for inequitable treatment,” Laura Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union legislative office, said.
The new budget package does not, however, make any changes to other longstanding abortion bans. The bill preserves a ban of local and federal funding of abortions for Washington, DC residents on Medicaid. It also preserves a ban on the use of federal money for federal prisoner abortions. According to the Washington Post, the bill also includes new language directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to indicate whether a healthcare plan available on the federal exchange covers abortion services.
Money reserved for family planning programs also remains about the same in the new spending bill.
Media Resources: National Journal 12/11/14; ThinkProgress 12/15/14; Washington Post 12/10/14; ACLU Washington Legislative Office 12/13/14; Feminist Newswire 6/25/14