Pa. Could Become 20th State to Declare Porn a Public Health Crisis

Pa. Could Become 20th State to Declare Porn a Public Health Crisis
Rhett Pardon

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives took a step forward this week declaring online porn a public health crisis.

Pennsylvania would be the 20th state to pass a resolution declaring porn a health crisis if adopted by the full house. Utah was the first state to make such a declaration in April 2016.

The resolution, which received an affirmative 19-5 vote from the House’s Health Committee on Monday, was sponsored by the panel’s majority chairman, state Rep. Matt Baker, who condemns the free, widespread availability of online erotica. The resolution now moves on to the full House for a vote.

Baker said the thrust of the resolution is to condemn childhood exposure to porn.

“Due to advances in technology, young children are now exposed to hardcore pornography at alarming rates, with as many as 27 percent of older millennials reporting that they first encountered explicit pornography before even reaching puberty,” Baker wrote in documents accompanying the piece of legislation.

Eric Paul Leue, the Free Speech Coalition’s executive director, said that Pennsylvania’s proposed resolution and the 19 already-implemented declarations in other states aren't based upon real facts.

“The anti-porn activists may paint a picture of a world out of control, but the facts don’t support it,” said Leue, who also noted that the resolutions could be used as a pretext to get around First Amendment restrictions on adult entertainment.

“No reputable, science-based public health organization has labeled pornography a public health crisis,” he said. “Not the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, or any state health department.

“For religious conservatives, anti-sex legislators and anti-porn censors, the rise in accessibility of adult material, coupled with a conservative political moment, has become a cause for action,” he said. “They claim that this access to porn will result in more sexual assault, destroy marriages, and contribute to a myriad of other social ills, from sexual dysfunction to homosexuality.

“Ironically, over the past two decades, the same period in which adult content thrived, sex crimes, including sexual assault plunged (even as reporting has gone up). The divorce rate is at a 35-year low. Teen pregnancy is rarer than it has been in the past 50 years.”

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