In a vote on Monday, the Arizona Senate declared pornography a "public health crisis." With 16 votes in favor of the resolution and 13 against it, the measure certainly condemns pornographic content — but it doesn't indicate any possibility of outlawing or banning such material, ABC News reported. And Arizona isn't the only state that's made similar moves.
The news comes several months after Arizona Republican Rep. Michelle Udall introduced the legislation through the Arizona House Committee on Health and Human Services in February, according to The Hill. Udall's bill passed the Arizona House of Representatives on Feb. 25 with a 32-28 vote, per ABC News.
At the time The Arizona Republic reported that Udall told other lawmakers, "Like the tobacco industry, the pornography industry has created a public health crisis. Pornography is used pervasively, even by minors." The Republican's resolution noted that given the ubiquity of porn, children were consuming harmful content that "shapes their sexual templates, teaching them that women are commodities for the viewer's use."
While the official text for the anti-pornography bill doesn't call for banning porn, it seems to encourage a more public discussion about the effects of porn consumption. Among other repercussions, the resolution says pornography normalizes violence against women and children, promotes dissatisfaction in married couples, glorifies themes of "risky sexual behaviors, extreme degradation, [and] violence," and contributes to the "hyper-sexualization of teens and even children."
The Arizona Senate isn't the first legislative body to push against pornography at the state level. In 2016, Reuters reported that the Utah House of Representatives passed a resolution that called pornography "a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms." Among other things, the resolution demanded that computer technicians immediately highlight any evidence of child pornography on computers to law enforcement authorities in the state.
In an op-ed for The Hill published in 2018, Penny Nance, the president of the conservative public policy organization Concerned Women For America, wrote that at least five states in America had publicly condemned pornography. Over the past few years, Nance wrote, resolutions had passed against pornography in the House chambers of Kansas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. At the state Senate level, Kentucky, South Dakota, Tennessee, and the aforementioned Utah had pushed against such content, calling it destructive for society.
So far, the Arizona Senate vote has received mixed reactions, according to The Arizona Republic. Opponents of the bill have urged lawmakers to pay attention to what they consider are more immediate issues. One of the opponents, Arizona Democratic Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai told the outlet that the state Senate should be focusing on the ongoing measles outbreak in Arizona. "I think we really need to focus on those types of things that are life-threatening and fatal, and could spread so quickly to anybody," Peshlakai insisted, according to the publication.
Supporters, however, seem confident about the impact of the resolution, Arizona Republic noted. Although the legislation doesn't outlaw or ban porn in the state, Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen said that the bill would still be effective "because it's the first time we're making a statement ... about the epidemic of pornography."