80 Democratic Members Of Congress Demand Repeal Of Gay Blood Ban


80 Democrats in both the House and Senate have sent a letter demanding the repeal of a discriminatory and un-scientific decades-old ban on gay men giving blood.

U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren, and Tom Harkin, U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley, and U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee – all Democrats – are the sponsoring signatories on a letter signed by 80 Democratic members of Congress calling for the full repeal of the ban on gay men donating blood.

The letter, addressed to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, spans four pages, plus another five of signatures, and states they are "steadfastly committed to ending the outdated MSM blood donation policy and moving forward with securing the nation's blood supply in a scientifically sound manner."

The lawmakers add, "we must embrace science and reject outdated stereotypes."

One FDA panel last month recommended moderating the ban, allowing gay men who have been celibate for one year to donate blood, but another refused to even vote on any recommendation of changes, leaving the ban fully in place.

LOOK: FDA Panel To Gay Men: We Don't Want Your Blood

Lawmakers are calling for the ban to be fully lifted and more scientific determining factors to be used in deciding who can donate.

"A one-year deferral policy, like a lifetime ban, is a categorical exclusion based solely on the sex of an individual's sexual partner - not his actual risk of carrying a transfusion-transmittable infection." 

"Low-risk individuals who wish to donate blood and help to save lives should not be categorically excluded because of outdated stereotypes," they added.

And they took the HHS to task as well.

LOOK: Lifting Anti-Gay Blood Ban Could Save Nearly 2 Million Lives

"Years of HHS inaction on this issue is problematic, but so is the fact that [the Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability] has now suddenly chosen to make such a system a precondition of revising the donation policies specific to MSM."


Images via Wikimedia: Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren