Schiff, Maloney Introduce Resolution Highlighting Need For Nondiscriminatory And Equitable Blood Donation Guidelines

Resolution Expresses Support for FDA to Develop New Science-Based Guidance Based on Individual Risk Assessment

April 1, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), along with Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Chris Pappas (D-NH), and Ritchie Torres (D-NY) introduced a resolution highlighting the urgent need for nondiscriminatory and equitable blood and blood product donation policies in the United States.  The resolution underscores that policies governing blood and blood product donation should be grounded in science and based on individual risk factors that do not unfairly single out any group of individuals, particularly LGBTQ Americans. The resolution was introduced nearly one year after the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) shortened the deferral period for blood donations by men who have sex with men from 12 months to 3 months, and comes as FDA evaluates further modifications to the current policies.

“There is a large contingent of healthy people that are ready, willing and able to donate blood and plasma, but antiquated regulations grounded in bigotry prevent them from doing so,” said Rep. Schiff. “One year ago, the FDA took an important first step towards eliminating the unscientific policy that blocks many gay and bisexual men from donating blood, and it’s time to move to a system that does not discriminate. We need science-based criteria that rely upon individual-risk assessments – especially as blood bank donation systems nationwide face shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“For far too long, outdated restrictions have prevented gay and bisexual men who can safely donate their blood from doing so,” said Rep. Maloney.  “Last year, FDA took an important step in addressing this issue.  However, blanket deferrals continue to perpetuate harmful stigma against gay and bisexual men—particularly gay and bisexual men of color—and have undermined critical efforts to fortify our nation’s blood supply in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  It is imperative that America’s blood donation policies be equitable, and based on science—not stigma.”

“These obsolete blood donation restrictions are an embarrassing relic of old prejudices and stereotypes. Like the previous Administration's ban on military service by transgender Americans, these restrictions prevent people from acting to help their fellow citizens and their community,” said Rep. Raskin. “A new, non-discriminatory policy will work to save lives and promote the dignity of all Americans."

"I am proud to join in introducing this resolution, which underscores the urgent need for our nation to reevaluate who is eligible to give life-saving blood based on the latest scientific information available, rather than antiquated methods rooted in fear. Leading medical experts and providers have made clear that blood donation eligibility should be determined by individual risk, not sexual orientation. In the wake of long-term threats to the blood supply due to the pandemic, we must prioritize removing barriers to vital blood donations for individuals who can safely do so,” said Rep. Torres. “We cannot claim to celebrate LGBTQ+ visibility one day and then restrict their ability to willingly contribute to society the next. It is long past time for the federal government to recognize the humanity of LGBTQ+ individuals and implement policy that is based on the science.”

"The science has shown that there is no evidence to support these outdated, discriminatory bans on blood donations that only further stigmatize members of the LGBTQ community,” said Rep. Pappas. "It is long past time we implement new policies, consistent with modern scientific guidance, that will permit willing and healthy Americans to donate blood, regardless of sexual orientation.”

Among the organizations that have endorsed the newly introduced resolution are: Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, GMHC, the HIV Medicine Association, GLAAD, The Trevor Project, the Whitman-Walker Institute, Athlete Ally, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LBGTQ Equality, PFLAG National, the National LGBT Bar Association and Foundation, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Equality New York, and the Ali Forney Center. This resolution builds off of work the Members have done in previous Congresses.

Read the full text of the resolution here.