Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, May 06, 2005

At long last, have you no shame?

The FDA is charged with protecting the health of the public by assuring the safety of food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics. It is supposed to base its decisions on scientific -- in other words, truthful -- evidence. We have seen how the FDA has been corrupted by the pharmaceutical industry, at the cost of thousands of lives. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for regulatory agencies to be captured by the industries they regulate. Political scientists have long observed this phenomenon.

But now it appears the FDA has been captured by bigots. On May 25, according to the Associated Press, new FDA guidelines will forbid sperm donation by any man who has had sex with a man in the past 5 years. Ostensibly, this is to protect against the possibility that donor sperm will be infected with HIV, but that is a transparent fraud. To quote from public comment submitted by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Rainbow Flag Health Services & Sperm Bank, Sperm Bank of California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

It remains our concern that the guidance will simply adopt, as to sperm donors, the 1994 CDC guidelines, which ban any men who have had sex with men (MSM) within the preceding five years from being blood or tissue donors. The designation of MSMs as unsuitable donors operates regardless of the results of any HIV test, the sexual behavior of the potential donor and with no accounting for the fact that the blood of the donor can be tested, and that semen, unlike other types of tissue, can be stored in quarantine for six months until the donor is retested. Simply put, we believe that the guidance should not designate MSMs as unsuitable sperm donors without adequate scientific support. Moreover, in reviewing the guidance document, the FDA should consider the reliability of current mechanisms designed to prevent the transmission of HIV through reproductive tissue donation, including the quarantine and re-test procedure.

That is awfully restrained and polite of them. The FDA rules do not forbid men who have sex with female prostitutes from being sperm donors. They do apply to men in monogamous same sex relationships. Being gay does not cause people to become HIV+; having unsafe sex does. This rule is simply bigotry. It is indistinguishable from forbidding Black or Arab men from being sperm donors, as far as having any rational scientific basis. I'm guessing that the real motive is eugenic. The good Christian folk at the FDA just don't want gay men to reproduce. Of course they know that being gay is a choice, a moral failing, but just in case there's a bad seed involved, here's a chance to purify the bodily essence of God's chosen nation.

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