GOP Declares Pornography A 'Public Health Crisis' in 2016 Platform

By Dorri Olds 07/19/16

The North Carolina delegate who proposed the controversial addition claims that it's designed to prevent children from becoming porn addicts. 

GOP Declares Pornography A 'Public Health Crisis' in 2016 Platform,

Ahead of the Republican National Convention on July 18–20, the Republican Party updated its official platform. The GOP have officially declared pornography a “public health crisis.” The recent amendment to its official platform states: “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children’s safety and well-being.”

The controversial amendment was proposed by Mary Forrester, a delegate from North Carolina who worked on the amendment with conservative Christian organization Concerned Women for America. Forrester says it's designed to protect children from becoming porn addicts. “It’s such an insidious epidemic and there are no rules for our children," she told New York magazine. "It seems to be for young people, they do not have the discernment and so they become addicted before they have the maturity to understand the consequences.”

In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert signed resolution S.C.R. 9 in April, which says “[P]ornography is a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.”

Recently, New York magazine spoke to sex researcher Nicole Prause, the principal investigator at the Sexual Psychophysiology and Affective Neuroscience Lab in Los Angeles, who said, “The actual inherent ‘badness’ [of pornography] there’s very little evidence for. Those who identify with no religious orientation or are agnostic don’t have porn addiction. The label and shaming has grown out of religious values and beliefs in the culture.”

A 2014 study of “pornography addiction” points out that those who have received religious messages that sex is “bad” have much more of a tendency to think they have an addiction. This is backed up by a 2015 study which states that “there was a robust positive relationship between religiosity and perceived addiction to pornography and that this relationship was mediated by moral disapproval of pornography use.”

In June, Psychology Today reported that “people with strong religious beliefs are at lower risk for many behavioral health conditions, including drug and alcohol problems. But, stronger religious beliefs increase the risk of a person identifying themselves as addicted to pornography, or struggling with porn use.”

The Christian organization Utah Coalition Against Pornography was pleased with Utah’s resolution and are promoting an August education week series titled, “Recovering from Pornography Addiction.” But, unlike addiction to alcohol or drugs, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) does not list Internet pornography addiction nor online sex addiction as official diagnoses.

Interestingly, in 2009, a Harvard Business School study found that residents of Utah were the highest per capita purchasers of online adult entertainment in America. Resolution S.C.R. 9 states that pornography is to blame for “a lessening desire in young men to marry,” leads to violence against women, low self-esteem, and can even “impact brain development and functioning and contribute to emotional and medical illnesses.”

The problem with claims like these is that there doesn’t seem to be reliable research to back them up. What does seem clear is that religion and “pornography addiction” are connected. And religion is connected to political party. According to Pew Research Center, Republican states tend to be much more religious, hence more likely to label porn as an addiction.

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.