Porn as a Public Health Crisis Advances in House

Senator Todd Weiler (Republican - Woods Cross)
Senator Todd Weiler (Republican – Woods Cross)

A resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis easily cleared a House committee Thursday.

SCR 9 – Concurrent Resolution on the Public Health Crisis, sponsored by Senator Todd Weiler (Republican – Woods Cross), was unanimously passed out of the House Health and Human Services Committee with a favorable recommendation.

Weiler told the committee that he doesn’t want to ban pornography; his resolution aims at contributing to a national conversation about the dangers of porn. “I respect the right of adults to do whatever they want that’s legal in the privacy of their own homes,” said Weiler.

Weiler compared the battle against pornography to the ongoing tobacco fight. “We recognized as a nation a couple of decades ago that tobacco was addictive and it was harmful. We didn’t ban tobacco. What we did instead was we changed our approach in order to try to protect children from tobacco,” said Weiler. “This resolution is trying to approach the pornography crisis in our country and our state and our communities from a different angle. Not to ban pornography, but to say this is something that’s more like tobacco and alcohol that we need to be a little bit more careful about.”

Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (Democrat – Salt Lake City) spoke about the need to have safe spaces where teenagers can discuss sexuality. “I see this as a really good opportunity to really talk about the totality of what needs to happen in our society for this to move forward. That it’s not just about talking about, ‘No, no, bad, bad, shame, sex is shameful,’ but talking about healthy relationships and being very open about what that looks like in terms of informing young people,” said Chavez-Houck.

Pamela Atkinson, chair of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, applauded Weiler for bringing attention to the issue. “It’s really going to make a difference. It’s creating this public awareness of ‘Yes, we do have a problem and we’re taking the responsibility for doing something about it.”

Representative Ed Redd (Republican – Logan) told the committee about a time when he was 16 and had a business mowing fields in Salt Lake County. One day, he accidentally mowed over a box filled with copies of Playboy magazine. It left him distressed for years.

“Those pictures stayed with me for probably two or three decades. They would came back at times when I didn’t really want it. It wasn’t like I could control them coming up. They would just show up in my head, in my memory. Very discreet, very descriptive visions,” said Redd. “It took about 20 years before those things sort of stopped bothering me and offending my sense of what was decent.”

The bill now heads to the House floor for debate.

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