A pregnant woman from Texas was slapped with a traffic ticket for driving her car in a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane after officers dismissed her argument that her unborn child be counted as a second person.
Brandy Bottone of Plano was 34 weeks into pregnancy on June 29 when she was driving her car to pick up her son. As she couldn’t be a “minute late,” Brandy took the HOV lane, she told The Dallas Morning News. When she exited the lane, Brandy stopped at a checkpoint and was pulled over by the police. An officer peeked into the vehicle, questioning whether there was any other person in the car. Brandy pointed to her stomach, stating that her baby girl was right there. “She is a person,” Brandy said.
The officer rejected the suggestion, stating that it’s got to be “two people outside of the body.” Citing the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Brandy insisted that her unborn kid is a “living child.” The officers refused to acknowledge it.
“They still gave me a ticket. So my $215 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. I know this may fall on deaf ears, but as a woman, this was shocking,” she said.
Brandy argues that laws should be consistent about how they define a person. One law defining a person in a certain manner and another law defining in another manner is not right, she insisted. Her court date is set for July 20, around the time of her due date.
Abortion in Texas
Speaking to NBC, Dallas appellate lawyer Chad Ruback pointed out that different judges might treat Brandy’s case differently since the situation is basically “unchartered territory.”
“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. Who knows? Maybe the legislature will in the next session,” he said.
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade judgment on June 24, Judge Christine Weems in Harris County issued a temporary restraining order on June 28 which blocked the enforcement of a 1925 Texas law that banned abortions in the state unless the mother’s life was in danger. This allowed clinics in Texas to continue providing abortion services.
But on July 1, the Texas Supreme Court overruled Weems’s temporary restraining order, allowing the enforcement of the 1925 abortion ban. Another hearing is scheduled for July 12 that will decide on a more permanent restraining order.
Texas also has another abortion ban law that came into effect in September last year. Known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, it prohibits abortion once cardiac activity is detected in a fetus, something which occurs after around six weeks of pregnancy.