California Becomes The First State To Pass ‘Stealthing’ Bill, Making Nonconsensual Condom Removal Illegal

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Male contraceptives for sale at CVS Pharmacy
Male contraceptives for sale at CVS Pharmacy

Source: Jeff Greenberg / Getty

The California legislature has passed a bill that makes it illegal to remove a condom without permission during sexual intercourse, an act known as stealthing. The bill, named AB-453, deems stealthing as a form of sexual battery in the California Civil Code. California is now the first state to pass a law banning stealthing.

The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who told the New York Times that the passing of AB-453 will “make it clear that this is not just amoral, but also illegal.” Garcia had been trying to get this bill passed since 2017.

“It is a big week for victims,” Garcia said. “It is a big week for discussions around these issues, and it is a big week to talk about consent.”

Now that AB-453 has been passed unanimously, the last step is for Governor Gavin Newsom, to sign it. He has until October 10, to do so. Newsom hasn’t commented on the bill and his pending signature. After being signed, people who remove condoms without consent can be sued.

Stealthing gained more attention after Alexandra Brodsky published a paper on it titled Rape Adjacent: Imagining Legal Responses To Nonconsensual Condom Renewal in 2017.

Stealthing is highlighted in Michaela A. Coles’s HBO series I May Destroy You. In one scene, Arabella, the main character played by Cole, hooks up with a guy she is dating. She tells him to put on a condom, which he does. During intercourse, he removes the condom without her knowing after he asks her to change positions. When she realizes he took it off, she confronts him. His response is that he thought she knew and would be able to feel the difference once he took it off.

The New York State senate has also tried to pass a stealthing bill, S4401, but they haven’t been successful.

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