A crowd of about 10 gathered Thursday night to discuss proposed anti-pornography legislation in Missouri.

The event featured anti-pornography advocates who spoke by phone about bills being considered by the Missouri General Assembly this legislative session. The Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition hosted the meeting.

Advocates discussed SB 733, sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery R-Lamar, which would mandate internet service providers block obscene websites and only allow users 18 and older to access such sites with a password.

Alissa Johnson of Concerned Women for America, an activist group advocating for the legislation, said that easily accessible pornography is a danger to children. Both of her children accidentally viewed obscene content online when they were in elementary and middle school. Even though Johnson blocked those sites in her own home, that did not stop her children from being exposed to obscene material.

“It’s not enough to protect my kids because they can go anywhere where there’s not a filter,” Johnson said.

Johnson spent three years pushing for a bill that would block general access to porn sites. When that bill dropped, she redirected her advocacy to similar legislation that would focus specifically on protecting children.

Thursday’s event also included a discussion about HB 72, introduced by Rep. Kenneth Wilson R-Smithville, which would recognize pornography as a public health hazard.

Uriah Stark, Missouri director for the National Decency Coalition, said that the HCR 72 is a “first step” toward for limiting children’s access to pornography.

The coalition is hosting its first Rally for Decency at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Missouri State Capitol.

  • Public Health and Safety reporter, spring 2020 Studying magazine writing Reach me at nsqfd@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at mhart@mail.missouri.edu.

  • I'm the public safety and health editor at the Missourian and a professor in the School of Journalism. I'm experienced in directing investigative projects. Call me at (573) 882-1792 with story tips, ideas or complaints.

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