Should a fetus count as a car passenger? Pregnant Texas woman says yes, fights ticket

Should a fetus count as a car passenger? Pregnant Texas woman says yes, fights ticket

Published July 10, 2022
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A pregnant woman in Texas plans to fight a ticket she received for driving in the high-occupancy vehicle lane alone, saying the overturn of Roe v. Wade means her unborn child counts as a passenger. 

The Dallas Morning News first reported the incident involving Brandy Bottone, who got a $215 ticket after being pulled over on U.S. Highway 75 South on June 29.

“An officer peeked in and asked, ‘Is there anybody else in the car?’” Bottone told the outlet. “I pointed to my stomach and said, ‘My baby girl is right here. She is a person.’”

An officer from the Dallas County Sheriff Department told the Plano, Texas, resident the law states HOV lane users must have at least one passenger in the vehicle, and those passengers must be outside of the body. 

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“And then I said, ‘Well (I’m) not trying to throw a political mix here, but with everything going on (with Roe v. Wade), this counts as a baby,'” she said. “This has my blood boiling. How could this be fair? According to the new law, this is a life.”

HOV lanes are restricted to vehicles carrying two or more people, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Bottone plans to fight the ticket and has a court date on July 20.

Amy O’Donnell, spokesperson for the anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life, said that while the Texas penal does recognize an unborn child as a person, the Texas Transportation Code does not.

“A child residing in a mother’s womb is not taking up an extra seat. And with only one occupant taking up a seat, the car did not meet the criteria needed to drive in that lane,” O’Donnell told the Dallas Morning News. 

The sheriff’s department, as well as Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, declined to comment on Bottone’s argument to the Dallas Morning News.

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