Texas woman says unborn baby counts as passenger in HOV lane
When an officer pulled Brandy Bottone over for driving by herself in a high occupancy vehicle lane in Texas just days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, she pointed to her pregnant belly and told him her unborn daughter now counts as a person.
“I said, 'Well, not trying to throw a political mix here, but with everything going on, this counts as a baby,” said Bottone, who was eight months pregnant when she was pulled over June 29.
Bottone, who lives in the Dallas suburb of Plano, plans to fight the ticket in court next week. Her story was first reported by The Dallas Morning News.
“I was driving to pick up my son. I knew I couldn’t be a minute late, so I took the HOV lane,” she said.
Bottone's ticket came five days after the Supreme Court stripped away women’s constitutional protections for abortion. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. In Texas, the fall of Roe put in motion a trigger law that will ban virtually all abortions in the coming weeks, and defines an unborn child as a living human from fertilization to birth. And in the meantime, a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court led to clinics halting abortion services.
Last year in Texas, a law banning most abortions after about six weeks - before many women know they are pregnant - took effect.
Bottone said the stand she’s taking on the ticket isn’t for or against abortion, but that the law should be uniform. “If there’s a pro-women category, that’s my stance,” she said.
“One law is saying that this is a baby and now he’s telling me this baby that’s jabbing my ribs is not a baby," said Bottone, 32. "Why can’t it all make sense?”
Dallas attorney Chad Ruback said different judges might have different takes on her argument.
“I find her argument creative, but I don’t believe based on the current itineration of Texas Transportation Code that her argument would likely succeed in front of an appellate court,” Ruback told the Washington Post. “That being said, it’s entirely possible she could find a trial court judge who would award her for her creativity.”
An Arizona woman tried to argue in 2006 that her unborn child counted as a passenger after she was fined for driving alone in a carpool lane, but a judge rejected the claim, saying the rules were designed to fill empty seats in a vehicle.
Meanwhile in Texas, Republican state Rep. Brian Harrison, wrote on Twitter that he plans to introduce legislation to clarify that unborn babies should be treated as passengers. He said: “Unborn babies are persons (meaning they’re also passengers), and should be treated accordingly under Texas laws.”