Utah legislators back plan to declare porn a health crisis

by BRADY MCCOMBS AND MICHELLE L. PRICE  |  published on February 6, 2016

A state senator in Utah wants to declare pornography a public health crisis, echoing an argument being made around the U.S. by conservative religious groups as porn becomes more accessible on smartphones and tablets.

Republican Sen. Todd Weiler, a Mormon, contends children are being exposed at young ages to pornography, leading them to engage in riskier sexual behavior. He has said recent research from the United Kingdom found that people who compulsively view porn showed similar brain activity as seen in drug addicts.

Weiler’s proposal wouldn’t regulate or ban anything, but it has attracted attention, including being debated on talk show “The View.” He said he’s been “mocked internationally” but feels it’s triggered an important conversation.

“It’s not just a kooky thing that some, you know, politician from Mormon Utah came up with,” Weiler said. “When I was a kid, people might sneak a Playboy magazine and look at it. Now, you’ve got all kinds of horrible, graphic images that are available to anyone with an Internet connection one or two clicks away.”

Four Republicans and one Democrat on a Utah Senate health committee agreed with Weiler and endorsed the resolution Friday afternoon in Salt Lake City after an hour-long meeting where they heard from anti-pornography activists, a marriage therapist and residents who said they or loved ones struggled with pornography addictions.

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