Bill to Make “Stealthing” a Crime

Interesting bill.

Under the legislation, if a person were to remove or tamper with a sexually protective device during intercourse without the partner’s permission, state law would say there was no valid consent for the act.

[…]

According to the article, the women interviewed who had experienced “stealthing” said they did not consider it to be directly equivalent to sexual assault, but one referred to it as being “rape-adjacent.” The article also cites men who write online about their experiences in “stealth” condom removal and share tips on how to do it successfully.

Although Brodsky’s article focuses primarily on women who were “stealthed” by men, she notes men can also be victims of the practice.

The types of devices covered under Sargent’s bill include “a male or female condom, spermicide, diaphragm, cervical cap, contraceptive sponge, dental dam, or any other physical device intended to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection.”

It would not cover a situation in which a woman lied about being on birth control or a man tampered with a woman’s birth control pills. The bill deals strictly with physical contact, Sargent said.

I did not know that “stealthing” was a thing. On the issue, it makes some sense. After all, if a couple decides to have sex under the condition of using some sort of birth control, then it seems like there should be some consequence if one of the parties unilaterally violates that condition. But proving such a case seems like a fruitless exercise unless the offending party is bragging about it online.

On the other hand, there is an assumed risk of pregnancy and STDs whenever you have sex. Even the best chemicals and devices are fallible. If someone gets a disease or gets pregnant, it would be difficult to prove whether it was due to a failure of the protection, intentional disuse of the protection, or unintentional misuse of the protection. Such a law seems like an invitation for people to blame and punish their partners when a sexual encounter results in an undesirable consequence.

Finally, I think the exclusion of a woman, or a man for that matter, lying about taking a chemical form of birth control to be inconsistent. It is still a situation where one person violated the conditions of sex and it potentially led to an undesired result. And that result has life-long consequences for both participants. If tampering with a contraceptive sponge (a device only used to prevent conception and not to prevent STDs) is covered, why not cover all forms of birth control?

In the end, this bill is interesting and potentially necessary, but I can’t think of a way to draft it in a way to avoid a lot of negative consequences. Perhaps the current rules of the road are best: if you are going to have sex, be prepared to accept any and all of the consequences.