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February 08, 2018

Kansas Latest State to Declare Porn ‘Public Health Hazard’

CYBERSPACE—Kansas this week became the fourth state to officially label porn as a “public health crisis,” after the 40-member, Republican-dominated state Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution declaring pornography “a public health hazard that leads to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.” The state’s House passed a similar resolution last year. The Kansas senate is comprised of 31 Republicans and nine Democrats. But in the 35-4 vote passing the anti-porn resolution, six Democrats voted in favor of slapping porn with the “health hazard” label, while a pair of Republicans broke ranks and opposed the non-binding measure. One Democratic state senator did not vote. Kansas now joins Utah, South Dakota and Virginia in giving legal and political backing to the claim that porn qualifies as a threat to public health. The Florida legislature is currently considering a similar anti-porn “health” bill. So what are the supposed health issues that the Kanas bill claims can be blamed on watching porn? According to the Kansas legislators, a number of ills from erectile dysfunction to marital infidelity to the violence against women and children can be laid at the doorstep of porn. But critics—and scientists—say that the resolution’s health claims have no basis in empirical evidence. For example, urologist and Kansas University Medical School professor Joshua Broghammer told the Kansas City Star newspaper that available research as well as what he has seen from patients in his own medical practice has revealed no apparent link between porn-viewing and erectile difficulties. An academic research study in Croatia also found little if any evidence to connect porn to men’s sexual health maladies, the paper reported. The resolution’s claim that exposure to porn leads to increases in child sexual abuse and even child pornography comes from a “study” that simply takes the unreliable results of online surveys backed by anti-porn evangelical Christian groups, according to a Huffington Post report. The Kansas resolution also recommends that the state support rehab programs for people “addicted” to porn, but the new bill’s language cites only “recent research” to support its claim of porn’s “addictive” qualities. As the Huffington Post report noted, the anti-porn resolution passed in Utah included similar claims, but added that porn’s “addictive” nature stems from the fact that viewing sexually explicit imagery triggers pleasure centers in the brain. “It’s true—pornography does that,” sexual health specialist Dr. Nicole Prause told HuffPo. “It’s also true with images of chocolate and images of puppies. You don’t see puppies being declared a public health hazard. These sex addiction studies are relying on ignorance, claiming that pornography is the same thing as cocaine and hoping you don’t know any different.” But one opponent of the resolution, Republican State Senator Barbara Bollier, questioned whether the resolution’s backers actually believed the “public health hazard” claims about porn themselves. "Seriously?” she said to the Wichita Eagle newspaper. “We’ll see how excited they are about public health when it comes to guns.”

 
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