June 20, 2014 — The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a 2015 State-Foreign Operations spending bill (S 2499) that would allow abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in some cases and permanently repeal certain restrictions on foreign aid for family planning, The Hill reports.
The first provision would permit abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in cases of rape or incest, or when a pregnancy endangers a woman's life (Viebeck, The Hill, 6/19). The change, if approved, would align abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers with that for federal employees and Medicaid beneficiaries (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/7).
National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra Ness called the move "a welcome and long overdue step," adding, "Peace Corps volunteers are one of the last groups of women without coverage for abortion care in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment -- and that is, simply, wrong" (Cheney, "Pulse," Politico, 6/20).
'Global Gag Rule' Amendment
In addition, the committee approved an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), that would permanently repeal a restriction known as the Mexico City policy (Broder, CQ Roll Call, 6/19). The policy, also known as the "global gag rule," blocks U.S foreign aid to organizations that use their own money to offer abortion services or provide information about or referrals for abortion services (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/17).
The policy was first put in place in 1984 and has been intermittently enforced ever since then, depending on whether Democrats or Republicans are in power (The Hill, 6/19). President Obama repealed the policy shortly after taking office in 2009 (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/17).