What is ‘stealthing’ and why do some lawmakers want it banned in Wisconsin?

Stealthing is the removal or tampering of contraception without consent.
A renewed proposal aims to ban “stealthing” in Wisconsin and bring awareness to the harm it causes.
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 7:03 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2021 at 7:13 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A renewed proposal aims to ban “stealthing” in Wisconsin and bring awareness to the harm it causes.

Stealthing is a term used to describe the tampering or removal of a partner’s contraception without consent during sexual intercourse.

California became the first state to make it illegal and State Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison) hopes Wisconsin will be next.

State Senator Agard says stealthing is a form of sexual harm. She’s co-sponsoring a bill along with Representative Lee Snodgrass (D-Appleton) to help stop it. The new bill is a revised version of a bill she first introduced back in 2017. It didn’t make it all the way through the legislature then, but she hopes this time will be different.

Right now there are no clear laws in Wisconsin that address stealthing.

Sen. Agard says she first brought the legislation forward after becoming aware of an online blog explaining what stealthing was and encouraging people to do it and share the experience. “I couldn’t believe someone would go forward and take actions like that. It was very clear to me this was an issue of control,” she said.

Now that California has passed legislation on the issue and New York is on track to do the same, Agard hopes her bill will gain bipartisan support.

“Everyone agrees this is not okay. I do realize that in Wisconsin it is going to be challenging for me to get it passed. However I’m hopeful that by introducing the bill we are engaging in conversation and allowing space to talk about this so folks realize we do need to do something,” said Agard.

Officials with the Rape Crisis Center say stealthing is classified as sexual violence because it puts the victim at risk of unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. “Stealthing really violates those terms of consent” said Missy Mael, Co-Executive Director and Director of Education at the Rape Crisis Center.

“Part of consent is being informed about exactly what you’re consenting to and a huge part is whether or not you are consenting to using contraceptives,” said Mael.

If you believe you are a victim of stealthing and want help, there are resources available. Emergency contraceptives and STD testing are offered at places like Meriter, UW Health, and Planned Parenthood.

You can also contact the Rape Crisis Center at it’s 24/7 helpline (608) 251-7273.

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