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  • More than a dozen states have moved to declare pornography a public health crisis in the U.S.

    More than a dozen states have moved to declare pornography a public health crisis in the U.S. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 May 2019

Arizona’s resolution doesn’t ban pornography or create any other legal changes, but as experts have pointed out it could lead the way for future actions. Yet critics say the label goes too far and carries its own risks. 

About 15 U.S. states have declared pornography a public health crisis after the Arizona Senate approved a resolution this week calling for a systemic effort to prevent exposure to porn that’s increasingly accessible to younger kids online.

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“It is an epidemic in our society, and this makes a statement that we have a problem,” said Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen (R), blaming pornography for contributing to violence against women, sexual activity among teens and unintended pregnancies.

After this latest bid by Arizona's government at least one legislative chamber has adopted a similar resolution in 15 other GOP-controlled states. Back 2016, Utah was the first state to pass an anti-porn resolution. In the years since, lawmakers have passed bills tightening up filters on wireless internet at public libraries and getting out information to parents about controls available at home, said Republican Rep. Todd Weiler, the effort’s sponsor.

A 2015 peer-reviewed meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that internationally the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in verbal and physical aggression, among males and females alike. While, according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, 64% of young people, ages 13–24, actively seek out pornography weekly or more often.

Arizona’s resolution doesn’t ban pornography or create any other legal changes, but as experts have pointed out it could lead the way for future actions. Yet critics say the label goes too far and carries its own risks. 

According to psychologist and former Deputy Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary, Patrick F. Fagan, “two recent reports, one by the American Psychological Association on hyper-sexualized girls, and the other by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on the pornographic content of phone texting among teenagers, make clear that the digital revolution is being used by younger and younger children to dismantle the barriers that channel sexuality into family life.”

Linking those social issues to pornography is “complete fear-mongering,” said a senior editor at the trade publication Adult Video News media network, Mark Kernes, adding their content is aimed at adult entertainment. While several Arizona Democrats have stated their state has more important health threats to worry about, such as measles, opioids, homelessness, and suicide.

Even though the resolution is non-binding, other groups such as the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute have warned any future steps to restrict access to pornography to have to be handled carefully to avoid running afoul of the First Amendment.

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