Lawmakers In Two States Working To Criminalize Stealthing

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Democratic lawmakers in at least two states want to criminalize “stealthing,” in which someone removes a condom or another contraceptive device without permission during intercourse.

Wisconsin state Rep. Melissa Sargent and California state Rep. Cristina Garcia both say exposing partners to the risk of a sexually transmitted disease or an unwanted pregnancy without their knowledge amounts to sexual assault and should be treated as such under the law.

“This is rape,” Sargent said. “This is non-consensual sexual assault. We need to call it what it is.”

Sargent, of Madison, believes the proposal she introduced this month is the nation’s first to address stealthing. The bill would require sexual partners to consent to removing condoms or any other physical device intended to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection.

Sargent said she’d been familiar with the concept of stealthing for years, but didn’t know there was a word for it until reading an April article in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law by then-law student Alexandra Brodsky that described the practice and considered possible legal remedies.

Sargent said that since introducing her bill, she’s heard from several people in Wisconsin who say they were victims of stealthing.

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