August 17, 2022 7:05 am

Texas woman argues unborn baby counts as passenger after fine

A woman in Texas has argued that her unborn baby should count as a passenger after she was fined for driving in a high-occupancy lane.

Brandy Bottone, 32, was given the $275 (£231) ticket on 29 June after she was stopped by police in the US state.

She then argued that, given the overturning of the constitutional right to an abortion by the Supreme Court, her unborn child counted as a person.

Ms Bottone, who is 34 weeks pregnant, plans to contest the fine in court.

She said the incident took place after she used the high-occupancy lane – which requires at least two passengers – while in a hurry to collect her six-year-old son. As she exited the lane, she was stopped by police.

Ms Bottone told the Dallas Morning News that, when asked whether there were any other passengers in her car, she pointed to her stomach and told the officer: “My baby is right here. She is a person.”

The officer, however, reportedly said that the lane Thorogood Boots required two people “outside the body” and issued her the fine.

The recent decision by the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v Wade, the 50-year-old landmark ruling that guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion, has reignited debate about the rights of unborn children.

BACKGROUND:How the US Supreme Court is reshaping America
EXPLAINED:What happens now Roe v Wade has been overturned?
ON THE GROUND:Inside a US abortion clinic in its final days
Texas was among 13 US states that had a pre-approved abortion ban that was triggered by the Supreme Court’s ruling. At the end of June, a judge granted a temporary injunction giving abortion clinics in the state another two weeks to operate.

This ruling, however, was blocked by the Texas Supreme Court.

“I thought [getting stopped] was weird and said ‘with everything that’s going on, especially in Texas, this counts as a baby,” Ms Bottone told the Washington Post.

Additionally, Ms Bottone said she had used the high-occupancy lane during her previous pregnancy. While she told the newspaper that she believes women should have a choice in what they do with their bodies, “that’s not saying I’m also pro-choice”.

While the Texas penal code recognises an unborn baby as a person, current laws surrounding transportation in the state do not.

Legal experts suggest Ms Bottone’s case highlights a grey area that has emerged since the Supreme Court’s decision last month.

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