An Arizona legislator has introduced a resolution that would declare pornography to be a public health crisis in the state.
Although the measure would not have legal consequences, it would declare pornography as perpetuating a “sexually toxic environment that damages all areas of our society.”
The resolution was introduced on February 7 by Rep. Michelle Udall, (R-Mesa). Having passed through committee, the measure will next be voted on by the entire Arizona House.
“Like the tobacco industry, the pornography industry has created a public health crisis,” Udall told lawmakers, according to AZ Central. “Pornography is used pervasively, even by minors.”
Dan Oakes, an Arizona therapist who helps patients with porn addiction, testified in support of the resolution. He expressed hope that it would “open the door” to more laws with greater legal significance, AZ Central reported.
The proposed resolution highlights the risks of pornography, underlining its addictive effects, sexual consequences, and influence on youth.
“Potential detrimental effects on pornography users include toxic sexual behaviors, emotional, mental and medical illnesses and difficulty forming or maintaining intimate relationships.”
The measure states that, because of the advancement in technology and the internet, children have been enabled to access X-rated material with ease. It also warns that porn can replace proper sex education, shaping young people’s understanding of what is normal in a disordered manner.
“Children are being exposed to pornography at an alarming rate, leading to low self-esteem, eating disorders and an increase in problematic sexual activity at ever-younger ages,” the resolution says.
“Pornography normalizes violence and the abuse of women and children by treating them as objects, increasing the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution and child pornography.”
Some Democratic representatives have pushed back against the bill, arguing that there is not enough proof to warrant pornography being labeled as a public health crisis, and suggesting that lawmakers instead focus on expanding sexual education programs.
“If we really want to look at this, we should start with education. It’s embarrassing that we are one of the states that does not have medically accurate sex education. In testimony, they were trying to blame everything on pornography. That is a stretch,” said Democrat Rep. Pamela Hannley, according to CNN.
Pornography has already been declared a public health crisis in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
Michael Sheedy, executive director of Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNA last year that the evidence increasingly shows the negative effects of pornography, especially for young people.
“Research has found a correlation between pornography use and mental and physical illnesses, difficulty forming and maintaining intimate relationships, unhealthy brain development and cognitive function, and deviant, problematic or dangerous sexual behavior,” he said.
“It’s a recognition that children are especially at risk given changes in technology – having more access to pornography than ever before – and the effects on their development and their sexuality.”
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