In May, California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) introduced a bill that would define “stealthing” as a form of sexual assault, and on Tuesday the state Senate Public Safety Committee advanced the bill while acknowledging that it was unclear whether or how such a law would be enforced.
Stealthing is the act of intentionally tampering with or removing a condom during sexual intercourse without consent, and the Los Angeles Times reports that the latest version of Garcia’s bill would make that a crime of felony sexual battery. In addition, lying about being on birth control or another form of contraception other than a condom would also be a felony.
Garcia has been a proponent of expanding the legal definition of rape in the state of California. As previously reported on The Root, last year Garcia introduced A.B. 701, which expanded the legal definition of rape so that all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault “may be considered rape for the purposes of the gravity of the offense and the support of survivors.” Garcia wrote that bill in response to the slap on the wrist that accused rapist Brock Turner got for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The bill went into law this year.
The stealthing bill moved out of the Senate committee with a 4-2 vote, according to the Times, but lawmakers questioned how it could be enforced and whether it might entangle innocent people.
Garcia told the Times that she amended the bill to include lying about birth control, at the request of the Senate Public Safety Committee, a compromise she made to elevate the discourse on rape culture.
“People are really having a hard time [with this bill] because it involves consensual sex, but ‘yes’ doesn’t mean everything,” Garcia said. “We need to be clear about what consent is, and we need to have those discussions in society.”
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.