Advisory Committee Upholds Ban on Blood Donation by Gay and Bisexual Men
The federal Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability ruled on Friday to uphold the long – standing ban preventing gay and bisexual men from donating blood. CNN reported that the policy faced review thanks to pressure from a group of 17 senators, led by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). Despite the senators' efforts, the ban was upheld by a committee vote of 9 to 6, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Progressive groups joined the senators in their criticism of the policy. In a release, the ACLU quoted James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project as saying "Eligibility for donating blood should be based on scientific evidence, not stigmatizing and outdated stereotypes…We know that many straight people have HIV. If the existing screening methods are sufficient to protect the blood supply from straight people with HIV, then the government needs a really good reason for having a different rule for gay and bisexual men. It's not clear that it does."
According to The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law said that by completely opening up donation to gay men, 219,000 more pints of blood would be available a year.
Currently, any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 is banned from donating blood regardless of their detailed sexual history or HIV risk assessment The ACLU argues that treating gay or bisexual men differently than heterosexual individuals has serious constitutional concerns, and points out that this type of policy pays no recognition to high risk or safer sex practices. The policy ignores individual practices like condom usage, and quantity of partners one has, and the types of sexual activities one engaged in.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Committee did acknowledge that the policy is "suboptimal." The Committee recommended certain steps to create a more nuanced policy in the future, and remains open to changing the policy upon further study.
Media Resources: ACLU 6/10/10; The Williams Institute 6/10; ACLU briefing 6/8/10 Los Angeles Times 6/12/10; CNN 5/26/10
4/15/2014 Virginia Bishops Advocate More Abortion Restrictions for Poor Women - Using the Medicaid expansion debate as a platform, the Virginia Catholic Conference issued a statement Friday calling for the repeal of a Virginia law that allows state funding of abortion care for Medicaid recipients in situations where the fetus exhibits a "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity" or a "gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency."
Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond and Bishop Paul Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington authored the statement which urges Virginia lawmakers to act to expand Medicaid to cover more of Virginia's poor. . . .
4/14/2014 Kathleen Sebelius Resigns as Secretary of Health & Human Services - President Barack Obama last week announced the resignation of Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius.
Noting that she will "go down in history" for "serving as the Secretary of Health and Human Services when the United States of America finally declared that quality, affordable health care is not a privilege, but it is a right for every single citizen of these United States of America," President Obama praised Secretary Sebelius for guiding the implementation of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA).
At least 7.5 million Americans have now signed up for health coverage through health insurance marketplaces created by the ACA. . . .