Lawmakers in Arizona are looking to declare pornography a public health crisis. State Representative Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, introduced a bill that says pornography “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. Pornography is used pervasively, even by minors,” Udall told Arizona lawmakers.
The resolution, if passed, would have little binding effect, but lawmakers and supporters hope passage will open the door to more regulation on the industry.
Udall’s resolution states the “alarming rate” at which children are being exposed to pornography leads to “low self-esteem, eating disorders and an increase in problematic sexual activity at ever-younger ages.” It also states pornography “normalizes violence and the abuse of women and children by treating them as objects, increasing the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution and child porn.”
Udall also says pornography has a negative effect on the traditional family structure, causing a “decrease in young men’s desire to marry, and ultimately leading to dissatisfaction with marriage and infidelity.”
The resolution passed out of the Arizona House Committee on Health & Human Services mainly with Republican support. It advanced by a vote of 5-3-1.
State Democrats remain skeptical of the measure. While they acknowledge addiction to pornography is a problem they question whether it rises to the level of “public health crisis.” They ask why, if Republicans are so concerned about sexual exploitation and its effect on minors for example, they don’t call for increased sex educational in schools instead.
Supporters of the measure acknowledge while more may need to be done, they hope the resolution brings the gravity of the problem into focus, for both parents and educators. They say the availability of graphic pornography on the internet makes the situation different from the morals-based debate of the past.
Utah was the first state in the country to declare pornography a public health crisis in 2016. Like the resolution in Arizona, Utah’s measure established no new laws or regulations. Instead it focused on increasing awareness and education. Since then eleven other states have passed similar measures.
The measure in Arizona now goes to a full vote in the House where Republicans have a slim majority. If it passes it will then move on to a vote in the full Senate. Resolutions in Arizona do not require the governor’s approval.
Photo by Wars via Wikimedia Commons