Supreme Court turns down porn group’s plea to block Texas age-verification law — By: Catholic News Agency

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CNA Staff, May 1, 2024 / 11:30 am (CNA).

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined a request from the porn industry to block a Texas age-verification rule, allowing the law to stand and temporarily derailing the efforts of porn creators to see the new safety measure scuttled. 

The court said in an unsigned order without comment that it was denying a request from the Free Speech Coalition to issue a stay on the law. The Free Speech Coalition includes a porn trade association and several pornography creators. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has defended the law, HB 1181, since its passage last summer. The measure requires porn websites to institute “reasonable age-verification methods” to ensure minors are not accessing explicit sexual content on their sites. 

The attorney general has sued multiple pornography companies in order to enforce the age-verification law. He argued earlier this year that pornography sites “are on the run because Texas has a law that aims to prevent them from showing harmful, obscene material to children.” 

“In Texas, companies cannot get away with showing porn to children,” he said. “If they don’t want to comply, they should leave Texas.”

The porn industry has fought efforts to ensure that minors cannot access sexually explicit videos on their websites. Age-verification laws in Mississippi, Arkansas, Virginia, Montana, Utah, and North Carolina, for instance, have led Pornhub — one of the world’s most prolific porn websites — to stop streaming its graphic sexual videos in those states. 

The website earlier this year ceased offering its website in Texas rather than comply with its age-verification law.

The U.S. crackdown on underage porn access comes as regulators in Europe have undertaken similar measures. The European Union in December announced that Pornhub, along with two other high-traffic pornography sites, would have to comply with age-verification and safety laws passed in 2022 by the governing body. 

Church leaders have been warning about the dangers of pornography for years. In 2022 Pope Francis called pornography “a permanent attack on the dignity of men and women,” arguing that it “is not only a matter of protecting children — an urgent task of the authorities and all of us — but also of declaring pornography a threat to public health.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called pornography “a grave offense against God and his gifts to men and women” that offers “a means of selfish, lustful gratification” and which “attacks sexual desire and the conjugal act itself.”

In 2020, meanwhile, Catholic anti-porn advocates launched a new online discussion and prayer platform called SOS Porn Deliverance, which offers “the opportunity for those affected by [porn addiction] to chat confidentially with an e-missionary trained in this mission.”

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