Arizona considers calling porn a public health crisis

Arizona state Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, introduced a resolution declaring "pornography is a crisis leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts."

(CNN) -- Pornography may soon be considered a public health crisis in Arizona -- depending on the fate of a resolution in the state.

Arizona state Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, introduced a resolution declaring "pornography is a crisis leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts."

The resolution says pornography "perpetuates a sexually toxic environment that damages all areas of our society." (Read entire resolution at the bottom of this story.)

CNN has reached out to Udall for comment, but has not heard back. But in reports on local media, she cited the effects of excessive erotic images on the society.

The resolution mentions that "potential detrimental effects on pornography users include toxic sexual behaviors, emotional, mental and medical illnesses and difficulty forming or maintaining intimate relationships," and says porn is "directly harming our nation's youth by contributing to the hyper-sexualization of teens and even children ...."

[WATCH: Lawmaker fights to declare porn a public health crisis (CNN)]

The resolution passed a committee vote along party lines and now moves to the Arizona House, where Republicans hold a slim majority.

Opponents agree that while there are dangers in excessive porn, the bill misses the underlying problem.

"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 Powers Hannley, who is sponsoring a different bill, HB2577, that focuses on medically accurate sex education.

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The debate nationwide

National organizations have been debating how to classify pornography for years.

In a 2012 edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Crisis, Emergency, and Risk Communication manual (PDF), crises are described as "time-sensitive" and crisis communication tends to occur when "an unexpected and threatening event requires an immediate response."

The CDC has told CNN it "does not have an established position on pornography as a public health issue. Pornography can be connected to other public health issues like sexual violence and occupational HIV transmission."

The Republican party voted to add an amendment adding pornography as a "public health crisis" to the party's platform in 2016.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation agrees with the Republican Party, said Dawn Hawkins, the center's senior vice president and executive director.

Hawkins said that some youth view pornography before they reach puberty, and it may be educating them about sex, which she said is disturbing because about 88 percent of porn videos depict physical aggression, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Violence Against Women.

Emily Rothman, an associate professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, argues it is not so simple.

"I think there are 'public health implications' of pornography," Rothman said. "But just like anything else, it matters what type of pornography we are talking about, who is watching it, why they are watching it, what they do with that experience, and how it interacts with any pre-existing problems they have going on, such as a propensity for violence."

Utah was the first state in the nation to declare pornography a public health crisis in 2016, but measures have been passed in 10 other states since. A nonprofit called Fight the New Drug lists the states on its website.

Utah's resolution has no punishing powers; it doesn't specifically ban pornography in the state.

Instead, a spokesman for Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert said, resolutions against pornography are intended to increase awareness and education.

Full text of HCR 2009

"Whereas, pornography is a crisis leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts; and

"Whereas, pornography perpetuates a sexually toxic environment that damages all areas of our society; and

"Whereas, potential detrimental effects on pornography users include toxic sexual behaviors, emotional, mental and medical illnesses and difficulty forming or maintaining intimate relationships; and

"Whereas, recent research indicates that pornography is potentially biologically addictive and requires increasingly shocking material for the addiction to be satisfied. This has led to increasing themes of risky sexual behaviors, extreme degradation, violence and child pornography; and

"Whereas, pornography is directly harming our nation's youth by contributing to the hyper-sexualization of teens and even children; and

"Whereas, due to the advances in technology and the universal availability of the internet, 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; and

"Whereas, exposure to pornography often serves as sex education for children and shapes their sexual templates, teaching them that women are commodities for the viewer's use; and

"Whereas, 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; and

"Whereas, the use of pornography has an adverse effect on the family as it is correlated with decreased desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage and infidelity; and

"Whereas, the societal damage of pornography is beyond the capability of the individual to address alone; and

"Whereas, to counteract these detrimental effects, this state and the nation must systemically prevent exposure and addiction to pornography, educate individuals and families about its harms and develop pornography recovery programs.

"Therefore

"Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the Senate concurring:

"That the Members of the Legislature denounce pornography as a public health crisis."

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

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(2) comments

Beelzebub

Legislating morality, yeah that has a long history of being successful. From the results of the poll, it would appear that the opinion of the public is quite different than hers.

MH

It doesn't surprise me that she is LDS. Pornography is more of a private life issue than it is a public health crisis, but OK. A lot of people, including LDS members, use pRon and putting a label on something isn't going to make your spouse or child less interested.

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