Concerned over the "toxic environment" pornography allegedly perpetuates, one Arizona lawmaker is asking colleagues to consider naming porn a crisis. Legislation introduced by state Rep. Michelle Udall seeks to declare pornography a public health crisis in Arizona. If passed, the bill would denounce porn for what Udall claims are its individual and public health impacts and call on both the state and the nation to prevent exposure and addiction.
"Pornography is a crisis leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts," the text of Udall's House Concurrent Resolution 2009 reads. The bill claims that "pornography perpetuates a sexually toxic environment that damages all areas of our society" with "potential detrimental effects" to viewers being "toxic sexual behaviors, emotional, mental and medical illnesses, and difficulty forming or maintaining intimate relationships."
According to The Arizona Republic, however, the bill is largely symbolic. In fact, the bill would not actually have any legal impact on porn consumption in the state if passed. Rather, it calls for state legislators to "denounce pornography as a public health crisis" and notes that both the state of Arizona and the nation "must systemically prevent exposure and addiction to pornography, educate individuals and families about its harms, and develop pornography recovery programs." The bill does not outline plans or allocate funding for such education and recovery programs.
House Concurrent Resolution 2009 claims "recent research indicates that pornography is potentially biologically addictive and requires increasingly shocking material for the addiction to be satisfied." This demand had led pornography to include "increasing themes of risky sexual behaviors, extreme degradation, violence, and child pornography," the bill asserts.
The bill also alleges that pornography has a direct harm on youth in that it contributes to the hyper-sexualization of teens and children and can cause low self-esteem, eating disorders, or early sexual activity. What's more, the bill argues that because women are often treated as objects in pornographic material, porn leads to the normalization of violence and abuse against both women and children and can increase demand for sex trafficking or prostitution.
If Arizona legislators pass Udall's resolution into law, they will be the 12th state to have declared pornography a public health crisis, according to Fight The New Drug, a non-religious organization aimed at de-normalizing porn. Utah was the first state to have declared porn a public health crisis, followed by Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia in 2017 and Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania in 2018.
But not every state legislator in Arizona thinks Udall's bill is the best way to properly addresses the underlying issues at play. "If we really want to look at this, we should start with education," Arizona state Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley told CNN. According to the cable news network, Hannley has sponsored a bill aimed at implementing a medically-accurate sex education curriculum in schools.
"It's embarrassing that we are one of the states that does not have medically accurate sex education," Hannley said. "In testimony, they were trying to blame everything on pornography. That is a stretch."