Peace Corps Employment Policies for Pregnant Volunteers

Headnotes: 

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) would prohibit the Peace Corps from implementing an across-the-board policy of terminating or reassigning volunteers solely because they become pregnant while assigned overseas, or because they have an abortion. A decision to terminate a pregnant volunteer must be based on a case-by-case assessment of the volunteer’s ability to function effectively in her assignment while pregnant or after delivery of the child.

Under the PDA, the fact that a volunteer who has been terminated because of pregnancy chooses to have an abortion cannot be considered in a decision on her reapplication for service.

Even though a specific restriction in the Peace Corps’ appropriation prohibits the use of its funds to perform abortions, so that the Peace Corps may not pay for the cost of an abortion for one of its volunteers, the PDA would require the Peace Corps to continue to pay travel and per diem expenses to volunteers evacuated to have an abortion, as long as it provides such compensation to other volunteers evacuated for comparable medical conditions. The Peace Corps must also allow volunteers to draw upon their accumulated readjustment allowance to pay for an abortion, if similar access is allowed for other medical expenses.

Updated July 9, 2014