Backed by Citizens for Community Values, Republican Jena Powell is leading the charge to brand pornography as a public health crisis, starting with a proposed resolution in the Ohio House.
“We are saying enough is enough. We’re tired of the exploitation of women and children in Ohio,” said Powell, a freshman lawmaker from Laura. She ties the use of pornography with the sex trafficking and sexual abuse.
Powell represents Ohio’s 80th House district which covers all of Miami and southern Darke counties.
Powell is joined by 18 legislators who are among the most socially conservative members, including local Republican lawmakers Nino Vitale, R-Urbana; Candice Keller, R-Middletown; Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield; George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.; Bill Dean, R-Xenia, and J. Todd Smith, R-Farmersville.
“The use of pornography in the younger age demographic is becoming more and more common. When you look people around you, you can see the hardships that addiction to pornography have on families,” she said. “This has been a big movement around the United States, to declare it a public health crisis, because that is what it is.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio declined to comment on the resolution since it would not have the force of law even if passes.
Citizens for Community Values, a Columbus-based non-profit that in 2004 put an anti-gay marriage measure on the statewide ballot, is backing the resolution.
“The #MeToo movement has awakened America to the epidemic of sexual assault, human trafficking, and the objectification of women,” said Aaron Baer, President of Citizens for Community Values in a written statement. “But any serious conversation about ending a toxic sexual culture must include an honest assessment of the harms of pornography. Pornography is more widely available than ever before, and until we get serious about enforcing our existing obscenity laws and ensuring children aren’t exposed to porn, we will never end the exploitation.”
CCV reports that 15 states have passed similar resolutions. CCV said it worked with the National Decency Coalition to help Powell draft the resolution. The National Decency Coalition also campaigns for displaying “In God We Trust” in public classrooms, making sure public schools and libraries have adequate online filtering tools, and keeping internet porn from being accessible to children.
Ohio lawmakers occasionally support laws that crack down on adult businesses, such as strip clubs and pornography.
In 2007, Ohio legislators passed a law that forces strip clubs, peep shows, and other adult businesses to close between midnight and 6 a.m. and institutes a no-touch rule between strippers and patrons.