Alabama to declare pornography a public health crisis

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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The Alabama Senate unanimously passed a resolution recently to declare pornography a public health crisis. The resolution has gained strong bipartisan support in the House and the question of it passing there seems likely.

“Declaring pornography a public health crisis in Alabama is not a political, moral, or religious statement,” said Teresa Collier with the Child Trafficking Solutions Project, in a recent press release. “It has nothing to do with censorship of legal material. Instead, this needed resolution has everything to do with equipping the public with important facts and raising awareness on the health and justice issues related to consumption of illegal, hardcore pornography.”

Melea Stephens, a marriage and family therapist with 20 years’ experience, has witnessed the effects associated with pornography on children. 

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“What I did not know about hardcore pornography until halfway through my career was the often immediate and damaging effects of exposure to pornography on the developing brain of a child,” Stephens said.

Alabama joins 16 other states in declaring pornography a public health crisis. Florida and Kentucky both passed House Resolutions in 2018; and Louisiana and Tennessee passed resolutions in 2017.

Michelle Samuels of Boston University does not agree with calling pornography a public health crisis. 

“A public health crisis is like CIVID-19, Opioids or Ebola,” Samuels said. Calling pornography a public health crisis is mischaracterization, she argues. 

“Pornography does not fulfill the public health field’s definition of a public health crisis laid out in the Oxford Handbook of Public Health Practice,” said Samuels. “The movement to declare pornography a public health crisis is rooted in an ideology that is antithetical (contrary) to many core values of public health promotion and is a political stunt.”

Stephens argues that hardcore pornography normalizes the notion that women are sex objects to be used and men are users. “Buying people for sex fuels the commercial sex trade, and is the reason why sex trafficking exists. It is time for our state (Alabama) to wake up and address these serious issues.

Alabama House Resolution SJR7 states:

  • Pornography increases the demand for sex trafficking by increasing the demand for prostitution and child sexual abuse images; potential detrimental effects on pornography’s users can impact brain development and functioning, contribute to emotional and medical illness.
  • Pornography  has a detrimental effect on the family unit.
  • Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry that finances, creates, and distributes material through the Internet and by other means; the inundation of pervasive and hyper-sexualized materials by the pornography industry desensitizes the community conscience and impedes enforcement of obscenity and harmful-to-minors laws.
  • We recognize that pornography is a public health hazard that leads to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms; furthermore, we recognize the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the local, state, and national level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our State and nation.

Whether citizens believe pornography to be a public health epidemic or a breakdown of the moral fiber of this country remains to be seen. Right now, authorities representing the state, county, and local regions are coming together to solve the problem.