Members of the U.S. Congress are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to update its policy regarding gay men donating blood.
At a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday, House Democrats demanded the FDA jettison a 1983 law preventing gay men from donating blood. Under current FDA rules any man who has had sex with another man in the last year is forbidden from donating blood.
U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Pembroke Pines) wants the process expedited in light of the tragic shooting in Orlando.
“Proud to lead a letter to @US_FDA on changing their blood donation policy for gay men. #BloodIsBlood,” Wasserman Schultz tweeted Tuesday.
Reports of gay men being turned away from donating blood in the aftermath of Sunday’s massacre at Pulse Nightclub were widespread. The American Medical Association and the American Red Cross have called the FDA’s rule “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest addressed the policy Tuesday. “We’re going to rely on scientific advice,” Earnest told the Associated Press. “It’s going to be rooted in the advice we’re getting from scientists at the FDA.”
U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) joined the chorus in calling for the FDA’s policy to be reviewed and changed.
“While the sight of thousands of my fellow Floridians lining up for hours to donate blood following this horrifying attack moves us beyond words, it is unconscionable that gay men are prohibited from doing so due to a bigoted federal regulation,” said Murphy, in a news release. “It is beyond time for the FDA to lift this discriminatory ban. It should not be harder for a gay man to donate blood to his friends in the hospital than it is for a terrorist to buy the guns that put them there.”