| House Republicans Ignore Victims of Sexual Assault
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2024
This afternoon, House Republicans decided to ignore victims of sexual assault after they killed Rep. Kadyn Wittman’s bill to protect victims of stealthing, a slang term for non-consensual condom removal.
Last week, multiple Republicans said it was due to testimony from a victim of stealthing that HB 1204 passed out of House Judiciary. During her testimony, she told the committee that when she Googled “is it legal to remove a condom without consent”, she learned there was no law in South Dakota addressing this. Her experience with non-consensual condom removal resulted in an unintended pregnancy. Despite pressure from her perpetrator to get an abortion, she chose to continue the pregnancy and raise her child as a single mother.
Instead of giving victims of stealthing a clear path in the court system, House Republicans killed the bill on party lines after enacting a rarely used rule that eliminates any discussion from occurring on the House Floor. Rep. Wittman released the following statement after today’s vote:
“I’m deeply disappointed to share that House Bill 1204, aimed at addressing the distressing issue of nonconsensual condom removal, was defeated on the House Floor today along party lines. This bill sought to establish a civil avenue for victims of this form of sexual violence, known as “stealthing,” and would have provided much-needed legal recourse for those affected.
“Stealthing undermines the fundamental rights of bodily autonomy and consent, exposing victims to heightened risks of unintended pregnancies, STIs, and severe psychological trauma. Despite the prevalence of this issue, with studies indicating that 43% of women have experienced it, the bill died without a single question asked or point made by the opposition.
“The fact that this bill was robbed of a full and robust hearing on the House Floor is an insult to victims and victim advocates everywhere. While some argue that existing statutes adequately cover this form of sexual violence, the reality is that our current laws fall short in providing specific protections for victims of stealthing. It’s evident that implied protection is not enough, and we must update our laws to explicitly address this behavior.
“As legislators, it’s our responsibility to protect our constituents and close legal loopholes that leave victims without recourse. By recognizing stealthing as a distinct form of sexual violence, we could have sent a clear message that consent is nonnegotiable in South Dakota. Instead, my Republican colleagues chose to stay silent on this critical issue, failing to address the harm inflicted on individuals who have experienced stealthing. This silence not only perpetuates a culture of impunity but also undermines the trust our constituents have placed in us to advocate for their safety and well-being. We must prioritize the voices of survivors and take decisive action to prevent and penalize such violations of bodily autonomy. It’s time to stand up for what is right and ensure that all individuals are protected under the law, regardless of political affiliation.”
For questions, you can contact the SDDP Executive Director Dan Ahlers at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the state party office by phone at 605-271-5405 or 605-940-3071.
Paid for by the South Dakota Democratic Party | www.sddp.org