A pregnant woman tried to avoid a ticket for driving alone in a carpool lane, saying her fetus is a person, local media reports

A pregnant woman in Texas is fighting a traffic fine for having driven in a high occupancy vehicle ‘carpool’ lane, arguing that her unborn child should now be considered as a second occupant of the car, local media reported on Friday.

According to NBC 5 DFW, in June 2022, Brandy Bottone, from the city of Plano, was driving the Central Expressway when she was pulled over. The current rules allow drivers to use a high-occupancy lane only if there are two or more people present in a vehicle.

When the officer stopped the car, he started to look for other passengers and asked the expectant woman if she was alone, Bottone recalled. “No there’s two of us,” she replied, pointing to her stomach. At the time, Bottone was 34 weeks pregnant.

“And then I said, ‘Well I’m not trying to throw a political mix here but, with everything going on, this counts as a baby,’” she said, referring to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, a case ruling that protected a federal right to abortion.

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US Supreme Court makes landmark abortion ruling

The officer, however, didn’t see it her way. Although Texas’ penal code recognizes a fetus as a person, the same isn’t true for the state’s transportation code. As a result, the mother got a $275 ticket, but has said she intends to challenge the decision in court.

According to legal scholars interviewed by the outlet, the issue in question lies in “uncharted territory.” “Different judges might treat this differently… There is no Texas statute that says what to do in this situation. The Texas Transportation Code has not been amended recently to address this particular situation,” Dallas appellate lawyer Chad Ruback said.

In late June, the US Supreme court overturned the 1973 ruling in Roe v Wade, hence removing federal abortion protections and placing the responsibility for legalizing or banning the procedure on individual states. The move was slammed by many women’s rights advocates and by US President Joe Biden, who decried the move, saying that it was a “sad day for the court and the country.”

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