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    California Attorney General Bonta Calls for End to ‘Outdated’ Blood Donation Policy That Stigmatizes LGBTQ Individuals

    California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a 22-state coalition in support of the Biden Administration’s new proposed policy that would make it easier for the LGBTQ population to donate blood and plasma. The current policy recommends barring gay and bisexual men from donating blood within three months of their most recent sexual contact, regardless of whether they engaged in high-risk behavior. In January this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced new proposed guidance that would abandon the current discriminatory approach and instead use a risk-based analysis for all donors, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.  In a comment letter issued today, Attorney General Bonta supports the new policy, which would both help increase the available blood supply and reduce the stigmatizing harms of the current approach by applying a risk-based model and ending the wrongful stigmatization of LGBTQ individuals.

    “Everyone deserves respect, and no one should have to endure discrimination — especially when trying to save others’ lives,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our nation’s outdated approach to blood donation is a holdover from a shameful, bigoted past. It’s time to discard it and move to a risk-based assessment approach based on sound science for all blood donors. It will not only protect LGBTQ individuals from the stigma of being unjustly singled out, but will also help countless more patients by giving a huge boost to the nation’s blood supply. The California Department of Justice, which has fought for decades for better access to healthcare and for the rights of vulnerable communities, fully stands behind the Biden Administration’s new proposed policy.”

    According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Blood transfusions and blood products are needed for major surgeries, to treat diseases such as sickle cell anemia and some cancers, and to treat victims injured by accidents, violence, or natural disasters. In the last few years, as the COVID-19 crisis reduced the number of community events and blood drives being held, blood donations dropped significantly. In January 2022, the Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in over a decade.

    The danger to the lives of patients during this crisis could have been significantly reduced if the donation restrictions on the LGBTQ community were lifted. Data from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law Williams Institute indicates that lifting restrictions completely, as compared to a 12-month waiting period, would produce nearly 300,000 pints of additional donated blood annually and could help save the lives of more than a million people.

    If the Biden Administration’s new proposed recommendations become final, blood banks in the United States will be urged to discard the previous policy and instead ask all donors, regardless of their actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation, if they have had sex with a new partner or more than one partner in the last three months. Based on their answers, they would either be allowed to donate blood or asked to wait for three months. The California Department of Justice has in the past repeatedly advocated for the federal government to adopt such an approach.

    In his letter today, Attorney General Bonta applauded the Biden Administration’s proposal to change the policy, saying it would:

    • Increase the availability of blood nationwide, addressing crucial shortage issues and saving more lives; and
    • Remove discriminatory aspects of the current guidance that violate constitutional Equal Protection principles.

    In filing today’s comment letter, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

    A copy of the letter can be found here.

    California Attorney General
    California Attorney Generalhttps://oag.ca.gov/
    The Attorney General is the state's top lawyer and law enforcement official, protecting and serving the people and interests of California through a broad range of duties. The Attorney General's responsibilities include safeguarding Californians from harm and promoting community safety, preserving California's spectacular natural resources, enforcing civil rights laws, and helping victims of identity theft, mortgage-related fraud, illegal business practices, and other consumer crimes.


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