Pregnant Woman Got Pulled Over In HOV Lane & Argued Fetus Should Count As Passenger
“In light of everything that’s happened, and I’m not trying to make a huge political stance here, but do you understand that this is a baby?”
Brandy Bottone, a pregnant woman living in Texas, has gone viral for fighting a traffic ticket she says she never should have gotten in light of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. On June 29, at 34 weeks pregnant, she was on her way to pick up her son. Knowing she couldn’t be late, she hopped into the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane... where she promptly ran into a check-point at the end of the exit. When the officer asked if there was anyone else in the car with her, she told The Dallas Morning News, “I pointed to my stomach and said, ‘My baby girl is right here. She is a person.’”
The officer dismissed her claim, saying that there had to be two people outside of the body. “In light of everything that’s happened [regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade], and I’m not trying to make a huge political stance here,” she recounted to CNN’s Pamela Brown, “but do you understand that this is a baby?”
Bottone was still given a $215 ticket, which had her “blood boiling,” as she doesn’t feel the law can have it both ways — where a fetus is a person in regard to abortion law but not traffic laws. (Currently, the Texas penal code designates a fetus as a person, but the Transportation Department does not.) “How could this be fair?” she asks in The Dallas Morning News. “According to the new law, this is a life. I know this may fall on deaf ears, but as a woman, this was shocking.”
Bottone, who was 34 weeks pregnant when she got the ticket, says she will be fight the ticket with this argument in court on July 20.
While Bottone’s commitment to fighting what she sees as a double standard has earned some mockery on social media, most of the reaction appears to be positive, often by apparent abortion rights activists.
“The pregnant woman who got pulled over in the HOV and is fighting the ticket is my hero,” tweets @lindsaysaidwhat.
“If an unborn fetus is legally a child for abortion law, then it is for traffic law too!” asserts @WytchyCraft, followed by hashtags including #AbortionRightsAreHumanRights.
“Stop saying a fetus is a person unless you want to give benefits as a person like child support, tax deduction, allow parents to get life insurance, etc.,” tweets @shanestocks.
Others, however, like Twitter user @UpstateIndepen1 note that this argument can cut both ways. “If a pregnant woman in Texas stays at a hotel, will she be charged double occupancy, too?” they ask. “How about going to the movies? A round on the golf course? Double the fare for a plane ticket?”
Some experts believe that the legal concept of “fetal personhood” is going to be a new frontier in the area of reproductive rights.
“I think it's a knot for states that [have passed laws stating that a fetus is a person,] in part because we should not have two different definitions of human beings state by state,” Carliss Chatman, a law professor at Washington and Lee School of Law told NPR. “The 14th Amendment defines that a person is a citizen when they are born. And it kind of is implied to me in the 14th Amendment that they're referring to birth being when life begins. And so if we change that, you're changing federal law and state law at the same time. And I don't know how that is sustainable.” Carliss went on to describe the situation as a “legal quagmire that people are not thinking through.” According to the Guttmacher Institute, five states — Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont, and West Virginia — have introduced bills that would ban abortion on the grounds of fetal personhood.
Texas has passed some of the nation’s most draconian laws regarding abortion. In December 2021, the state prohibited abortion when there is a detectable cardiac activity, which could be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy (before many even know they’re pregnant). When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, however, it triggered a pre-Roe ban on all abortions in the state from the moment of fertilization with narrow exceptions to save the life of the pregnant patient or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function.”