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Utah Declares Pornography a Public Health Crisis

Andrea Smardon
Utah Governor Gary Herbert ceremonially signs SCR9, a resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis.

In an official ceremony Tuesday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a resolution declaring pornography a public health crisis.

The resolution calls pornography an epidemic that harms public health and society, but Governor Herbert says it does not restrict anyone’s first amendment rights.

“What we are doing is sounding a voice of warning,” Herbert says. The governor was backed by lawmakers, advocates, and academics as he signed the resolution, the first of its kind in the nation.

“We think it’s time to in fact shed light on this issue that unfortunately threatens marriages, threatens families, threatens our young people, and is very destructive in fact to society as a whole.”

The resolution is non-binding and does not ban or limit access to pornography, but it does include language that encourages education, prevention, research, and policy change. Senator Todd Weiler sponsored the resolution and he says it’s meant to start conversations.

“For parents who are listening, you need to make it safe to talk about pornography in your home,” Weiler says. “Tell your children the first time you saw it. Ask them the first time they saw it. It’s wonderful to try to protect our children and that’s what my goal is, but let’s be honest, kids are seeing pornography as young as the age of twelve.”

Weiler encouraged community members to become activists on this issue. He called on lawmakers in other states to join Utah in an effort to make Internet default settings porn-free. He also called on the porn industry to help protect children from what he called its evil, degrading, and addictive substances.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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