Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FDA Proposes Reducing Lifetime Ban On Gay Blood Donors To One Year

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement today which indicates that it will propose changing the current lifetime ban on blood donations from any man who has had sex with another man since 1977. The proposed policy will be that gay men who declare that they have not had sex with another man in over a year shall be allowed to donate blood.

The reaction to the proposed policy change was decidedly mixed:
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote: “…the FDA remains trapped in the 1980s—terrified of gay men and their diseased, untrustworthy ways. Perhaps in another 31 years, we’ll see the FDA move to a sensible, nondiscriminatory rule. For now, we’re stuck with this embarrassing, unscientific half-measure. 
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) told her constituents, “Today’s announcement is a welcome step in the right direction. However, I am disappointed that low-risk gay men are still being discriminated against with this outdated policy. Healthy Americans who don’t engage in risky behavior, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have the opportunity to donate blood and help in the effort to save lives. I look forward to working with Secretary Burwell to build on the step taken today by removing this discriminatory ban while keeping our blood supply safe.”
I think my position is somewhere closer to Senator Murray's than Mark Joseph Stern's although I would agree that this is a half-measure. That being said, you can still acknowledge that a change has been made, and the change is in the right direction even if it is not as much change as one would prefer. I also agree that the proposed policy change would STILL be discriminatory and is unacceptable public policy, but it is still better than the current policy which was completely irrational and rooted in homophobia.

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