Lawmakers in Arizona are taking on what they consider to be a big issue in their state in 2019: pornography.
Led by Republican state Rep. Michelle Udall, legislators are seeking to declare porn a public health crisis, stating that “pornography is a crisis leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts,” the Arizona Republic reports.
“Like the tobacco industry, the pornography industry has created a public health crisis,” Udall told lawmakers. “Pornography is used pervasively, even by minors.”
In her resolution, Udall said that children are being exposed to porn “at an alarming rate” thanks to its presence on the internet. Udall says this leads to “low self-esteem, eating disorders and an increase in problematic sexual activity at ever-younger ages.” Her resolution also claimed that 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.” She also said it has a negative effect on 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 House Committee on Health & Human Services on Thursday with a 5-3-1 vote, with Republican support.
While some Democrats say that the issue needs to be studied further, other opponents are fully critical of Udall’s allegations, saying that while porn addiction is a serious issue, it doesn’t qualify as a “public health crisis.”
“There are statements in here that seem hyperbolic and unproven,” said Democratic state Rep. Kelli Butler, according to the Arizona Republic. “I just don’t think there’s necessarily the science to back up those claims.” Butler added that if Republicans are so concerned with sexual exploitation and young people’s health, they should provide more substantial sex education opportunities in schools.
State Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, also a Democrat, agrees that sex education should be enhanced. “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,” she said according to CNN.
Arizona currently ranks fourth-lowest in the country when it comes to offering middle school sexual education, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The pornography measure will next face a vote in the full House. From there, it must be passed by the Senate. In 2016 Utah became the first state to name pornography a public health crisis. Since then, 11 other states have followed suit.