Arizona considers declaring porn a public health crisis

A Republican state lawmaker in Arizona has introduced a resolution that would declare pornography a public health crisis.

A measure introduced by state Rep. Michelle Udall (R) passed through the Arizona House Committee on Health & Human Services on Thursday, the first hurdle in its path to a full vote, AZ Central reported.

The symbolic measure has no legal effect but states that porn "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, according to the outlet. "Pornography is used pervasively, even by minors."

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Udall's resolution states that children being exposed to widely available porn on the internet can lead to “low self-esteem, eating disorders and an increase in problematic sexual activity at ever-younger ages.”

Arizona ranks fourth-lowest in the U.S. for offering comprehensive sexual education in middle school, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The measure points to research that has shown pornography to be biologically addictive.

"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.

The proposal also says excessive access to porn can lead to extreme or violent sexual behaviors.

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,” the measure reads.

Democrats argued that porn addiction has become a problem but said the resolution did not prove with scientific evidence that the state needs to declare a public health crisis, the outlet noted.

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

The measure will soon be presented for a vote in the GOP-majority Arizona House of Representatives. It would not require the signature of Gov. Doug Ducey (R) if it passes through both the Arizona House and Senate, AZ Central noted.

Similar measures have been passed in 11 states declaring porn a public health crisis, according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.