Pregnant U.S. woman given ticket says fetus counts as 2nd passenger in carpool lane

A carpool lane sign on a highway. Brandy Bottone challenged officers in Texas when she claimed her unborn baby should qualify as a passenger due to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Getty Images

When a pregnant Texas woman was pulled over by police for driving alone in the carpool lane, she told the officer her unborn baby should count as a second passenger, citing the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Brandy Bottone, 32, was stopped at a Central Expressway sheriff’s checkpoint on June 29, NBC-Dallas Fort Worth reported.

The checkpoint was to target drivers breaking a law that requires at least one passenger be in the car when using the highway’s carpool lane, also called a high-occupancy vehicle or HOV lane.

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At the time she was pulled over by police, Bottone was 34 weeks pregnant.

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According to NBC, when the officer asked Bottone where the second passenger was, she pointed to her stomach and said, “Right here.”

“I pointed to my stomach and said, ‘My baby girl is right here. She is a person,'” Bottone told The Dallas Morning News.

Bottone told the officer that because of the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, her fetus was now recognized in the U.S. as a living person.

The officer reportedly disagreed and told Bottone the HOV lane rule required “two people outside of the body” be in the car.

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Though the Texas penal code recognizes a fetus as a person, the state’s transportation code does not.

Bottone, a Plano, Texas resident, was then passed along to another officer who gave her a US$215 ticket (about CDN$280). The officer reportedly told Bottone the citation will most likely be dropped if she fights it in court.

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Though Bottone does plan to fight the ticket, she told the Dallas Morning News this frustrated her, as she believed the ticket was written to “cause inconvenience.”

“This has my blood boiling. How could this be fair? According to the new law, this is a life,” she said to the outlet. “I know this may fall on deaf ears, but as a woman, this was shocking.”

The sheriff’s department has not publicly commented on Bottone’s claim that her unborn baby qualifies as a vehicular passenger.

Bottone’s court date is July 20, around the same time as her baby’s expected due date. The U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was announced on June 24.

The ruling abolished the Roe v. Wade landmark decision, which has guaranteed the right to an abortion for more than 50 years in the U.S.

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In a 5-4 decision, the top court upheld a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after the 15th week, while also abolishing the legal precedent Roe v. Wade established in 1973 and the 1992 decision that reaffirmed it, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The question of whether abortions are legal will now be left up to individual states, which could lead to widespread differences in access across the U.S.

— With files from Global News’ Sean Boynton 

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