In the wake of the Orlando shooting, many in the U.S. have renewed their pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to completely lift the ban on gay men donating blood. The FDA relaxed the rule in December 2015, lifting the lifetime ban on accepting blood donations from men who have had sex with men, changing the ban to men who have had sex with men in the last 12 months.
While the FDA’s alternation to the rule was initially met with praise from some of the LGBTQ community, others saw the continued restriction on gay men or men who have had sex with men as a sign of lingering prejudice. With the Orlando shooting spotlighting the inability of many willing volunteers to donate blood in the city’s time of need, lawmakers are again pressing the FDA for a final lift of the ban altogether, citing science as the reason to reconsider an antiquated policy. (Note that in December, when the FDA relaxed the ban, Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said that the agency had relied on “sound scientific evidence” to make the change.)
CNN reports that Democratic Florida Representative Alan Grayson said blood donation screening should be based on science and a donor’s safe and monogamous sexual behavior, no matter their orientation. Grayson is introducing a bill that would create a grant program to give money to blood banks, which would be used to conduct thorough testing of donated blood and could help ease the restrictiveness of the FDA’s policy. Grayson is one of 130 members of Congress who have signed letters calling for an end to the policy, according to NBC News.