POLITICS

Elizabeth Warren Calls For Changes To Ban On MSM Blood Donations

08/02/2013 01:25 pm ET | Updated Aug 02, 2013

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday asking the agency to pick up the pace in addressing blood donation policies for men who have sex with men, according to a press release from the senator's office.

The letter, which has bipartisan signatories, was compiled after Warren received a complaint from a Roslindale resident whose sexual orientation prevented him from donating blood after the Boston Marathon bombings.

"I ask you to add your voice to this issue, because it is right, because there is a clear need, and because when lives are on the line, we all want to help," the resident said in his correspondence with Warren.

Warren condemned the ban, saying such policies should be based on science, not stereotypes:

For me, this has been a basic issue of fairness and of science -- blood donation policies should be grounded in science, not ugly and inaccurate stereotypes. When a Massachusetts man told me he wanted to donate blood during the bombings but couldn't because of his sexual orientation, I dug deeper into this discriminatory ban and I didn't like what I found. Current policies are contrary to science. They promote discrimination and don't make the system any safer. It's long past time for HHS to make blood donation policies fairer and more effective.

The letter, authored by Warren, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), has 86 signatures. It requested information about the HHS' ongoing research and a review of the policy.

A spokesperson for the HHS told HuffPost that the department is "in the process of conducting additional studies to help inform our policy discussions" but that those studies have not yet been completed.

The Food and Drug Administration has banned blood donations from men who have sex with other men since 1983. The ban also prompted a national gay blood drive in July.

Read the full letter here.

This post has been updated with comment from HHS.

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