A pregnant woman in Texas is challenging a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane violation by arguing that her unborn baby should be considered as a valid second passenger, citing the state’s abortion ban and the overturn of Roe v. Wade to back up her case.
Brandy Bottone of Plano, Texas, was 34 weeks pregnant when she was pulled over on June 29 by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer for illegally driving in an HOV lane in Dallas County.
Bottone said she was in a hurry and decided to hop on the carpool lane to bypass traffic on the U.S. Highway 75 South.
The incident took place just days after the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse of Roe v. Wade on June 24, which declared that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists.
According to Texas Department of Transportation regulations, the HOV lane is reserved for a vehicle with two or more occupants or a motorcyclist.
When the officer pulled over Bottone, he asked her where her passenger was.
“‘Uh, this!’” Bottone said, pointing to her belly. “I was like, ‘Right here, here she is.’ He just looked at me, ‘How do I answer this?’”
She said the officer replied, “‘Ma’am, it’s two people outside of the body,’ which is a weird way of wording it.”
Bottone said she wasn’t trying to make it a political issue, but was just trying to fight the $275 ticket.
Bottone’s case has garnered a lot of attention on social media, with people calling her “brilliant” and declaring her a “hero.”
She later told The Dallas Morning News that she felt that Texas law would be inconsistent if the penal code recognized an unborn baby as a person but the transportation code did not. “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. Why can’t it all make sense?” Bottone said.
Needless to say, the officer was not convinced by her argument but said she could always challenge the ticket in court if she thinks there has been a mistake.
Bottone has hired a lawyer and plans to take the citation to court.