At Start of Pride Month, Maloney and Ocasio-Cortez Highlight Need for Nondiscriminatory Blood Donation Guidelines
Washington, D.C. (June 1, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Committee Member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Deb Haaland (D-NM), and Katherine Clark (D-MA), introduced a resolution underscoring the need for policies governing blood and blood product donation that are grounded in science and based on individual risk assessments so all those who can safely donate are able to do so.
“For years, FDA’s discriminatory restrictions have prevented people from safely donating their blood and perpetuated harmful stigma against gay and bisexual men across the United States,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “The coronavirus crisis brought into focus the dangers of this shortsighted policy. It is imperative that our nation’s blood donation policy be rooted in science, and I am proud to join in introducing a resolution calling for just that.”
“The only explanation for the current ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men is homophobia,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. “Congress and the FDA must do their job to create a healthy and inclusive space for all who wish to donate. The ban must be eliminated, in the interest of public health and in the interest of equal rights.”
“Federal policy for donating blood should be based on science, not based on fear and bias,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “As the global pandemic wears on, we must continue to push the federal government to change this policy, which is not only discriminatory but undermines efforts to support and protect our communities. We appreciate the leadership of Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez in introducing this resolution calling for blood donation policies that are equitable, based on science and not unfairly singling out any group."
“Lambda Legal is pleased to see members of Congress pushing the FDA to further modify blood donation criteria to eliminate discrimination against gay and bisexual men,” said Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal. “A shorter deferral period applied to all people engaged in certain risk behaviors, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, will create a truly nondiscriminatory policy. Lambda Legal looks forward to the adoption of an individualized risk assessment for every potential blood donor, thereby ensuring a safe and abundant blood supply.”
On April 1, 2020, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter urging FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn to immediately revise FDA’s blood donation guidelines for men who have sex with men in light of the long-term threats the coronavirus pandemic poses to the United States blood supply. The next day, the Food and Drug Administration shortened its recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.
On May 7, 2020, Chairwoman Maloney, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, and Members of the Oversight Committee sent a letter urging Commissioner Hahn to further modify deferral recommendations so gay and bisexual men who have recovered from coronavirus and can safely donate plasma to support treatment research efforts are able to do so.
Click here to read the resolution.