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Arizona Considers Declaring Porn a Public Health Crisis

Law & Order

Arizona Considers Declaring Porn a Public Health Crisis

Arizona lawmakers are pushing a resolution that would declare porn as a public health crisis. Lawmakers are citing the reason for the proliferation of erotic images online and their “toxic” effect on behavior.

State Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, introduced the measure that declares porn as crisis and states it “perpetuates a sexually toxic environment that damages all areas of our society.”

“Like the tobacco industry, the pornography industry has created a public health crisis,” Udall told lawmakers. “Pornography is used pervasively, even by minors.”

Udall’s proposal, House Concurrent Resolution 2009, may be symbolic with no or minimum legal effect, but it may open the door for restriction of porn in the future.

It should be reported here that based upon model legislation by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation; eleven states have passed a similar measure declaring porn as a public health crisis. As per the group, which is known as the Morality group, contends porn is directly connected to other forms of sexual exploitations.

Democrats-

The resolution, concerned with the effects of porn, cleared its first stage in the state House of Representatives on Thursday, passing out of the House Committee on Health & Human Services on a 5-3-1 vote, as Republicans supported it.

Democrats said while porn is addictive and it poses serious threats to society in certain places, supporters of the resolution lack necessary evidence to show it as a public health crisis.

Rep. Kelli Butler, D-Paradise Valley said, “There are statements in here that seem hyperbolic and unproven, I just don’t think there’s necessarily the science to back up those claims.”

She questioned the proponents of the resolution on their inactivity with respect to better sex education in schools if they have felt the seriousness of porn in society.

According to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona is fourth from the lowest state in the whole United States for offering comprehensive sexual education in middle school.

Committee Chairwoman Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, cut off debate on that topic, terming it a “peripheral discussion that we don’t want to get into at this time.”

One Democrat, Rep. Amish Shah of Phoenix, voted present on HCR 2009, indicating his neutrality on the measure. He said the whole topic deserved further study.

Resolution Supporters-

As per supporters, pornography can be biologically addictive and can lead to extreme and violent sexual behaviors, as well as interest in child pornography.

The measure states, “Potential detrimental effects on pornography users include toxic sexual behaviors, emotional, mental and medical illnesses and difficulty forming or maintaining intimate relationships.”

Numerous studies have been conducted on the effects of pornography on human lives. Some studies state that Excessive porn takes a toll on personal relationships and it becomes a part of addictive behavior.

But as per other researches, there is not enough evidence that porn has equal or similar effects or addiction levels like alcohol and tobacco, though the perception of the addiction can give psychological distress.

In some countries, after legalizing porn instances of sexual assault has declined, and some have given the hypothesis that it provides a safe outlet for sexual expression.

As per Udall’s resolution, the main concerns of increasing pornography viewership are as follows,

  • Children are being exposed to porn “at an alarming rate” given its widespread availability on the internet,” leading to low self-esteem, eating disorders and an increase in problematic sexual activity at ever-younger ages.”
  • It “normalizes violence and the abuse of women and children by treating them as objects, increasing the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution and child porn.”
  • “Pornography hurts the family as it is correlated with decreased desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage and infidelity.”

Lawmakers’ questions-

A few lawmakers during the Thursday hearing question what measures the resolution will take to address the evil if it is specified as a public health crisis. They questioned its non-binding nature as it will not impose any new regulations.

Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, who ultimately voted for the measure said, “I don’t know how this resolution can control the evils that it portrays.”

But as per supporters, the resolution if passed will alert the parents and teachers of the degree of seriousness of the situation. It should be treated with much importance as it is a thing which is easily accessible.

Dan Oakes, a Mesa-based therapist who operates a clinic for treating porn addiction, said the resolution would open the door for many such new laws in the future.

He said, “I don’t disagree that the resolution needs more teeth, which is our goal.”

However, the resolution supporters have not elaborated what kind of regulations would follow after the passing of the resolution as courts of the United States have constantly ruled that porn is legal whereas Child pornography is illegal.

The measure will now face a vote in the full house, and Republicans lack large number here. If the resolution is passed in the House, it should move to the Senate. Resolutions, unlike bills, do not need approval from the Governor.

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