Kentucky Republicans Revive 'Public Health Crisis' Claims to Justify Anti-Porn Bills

Kentucky Republicans Revive 'Public Health Crisis' Claims to Justify Anti-Porn Bills

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Republican lawmakers in the Kentucky House and Senate are renewing claims that adult content is part of a “public health crisis,” to justify introducing matching copycat versions of the age verification legislation being sponsored around the country by anti-porn religious conservative activists.

House Bill 241 from Rep. Shane Baker and Senate Bill 276 from Sen. Lindsey Tichenor would “require sites that host or distribute ‘matter harmful to minors’ to confirm a user’s age by checking a government-issued identification card or another specified form of accepted verification,” the Lexington Herald Reader reported.

To bypass the First Amendment issues that have threatened to derail age verification legislation in some other states, the Kentucky bills establish civil liability, encouraging parents or guardians of any minor who encounters adult content to sue adult websites.

Tichenor told the Herald Reader she would be “100%” supportive of porn companies blocking their sites if her bill passes.”

Tichenor also claimed “porn addiction” can lead to “a very, very dark road,” echoing language in the bills — originally from a nationwide 2016-2020 campaign — declaring sex content on the internet “a public health crisis” which has “a corroding influence on minors” and “may lead to low self-esteem, body image disorders, an increase in problematic sexual activity at younger ages, and increased desire among adolescents to engage in risky sexual behavior.”

The Free Speech Coalition told the Herald Reader that the adult industry trade group has “both the subject matter expertise and sincere desire to collaborate with legislators on workable solutions,” but that state proposals like the Kentucky bills “have significant practical, technical and legal problems that will undermine its effectiveness in protecting children, create serious privacy risks and infringe on Americans’ Constitutional rights.”

Since taking office in 2023, Tichenor has focused on culture war issues, including sponsoring a bill targeting drag performances as “sexually explicit” and expanding regulations on adult-oriented businesses and how they are defined. Tichenor’s 2023 drag ban bill passed the Senate but was ultimately unsuccessful.

As XBIZ reported, last week South Dakota Republican Rep. Bethany Soye also cited “the public health crisis created by pornography” when introducing her version of the copycat age verification law. Soye claimed adult content online is “an epidemic that is harming the people of our state and our country as a whole.”

From 2016 until the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, an actual health crisis, anti-porn activists and politicians passed a series of proclamations in red states, claiming the existence of a supposed “porn epidemic.”

Main Image: Kentucky anti-porn crusader Sen. Lindsey Tichenor (Photo: YouTube)

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