I got quite a chuckle last night when I read the story of Brandy Bottone, a quick thinking pregnant woman who was ticketed near Dallas, Texas for driving alone in the HOV lane. On June 29th, Bottone was busted by a sheriff’s deputy at a HOV checkpoint on the Central Expressway. The current rules state that there must be at least two people in a vehicle to use that lane. The cop asked Bottone if it was just her in the car, or if she had someone else with her. Bottone, who is 32 years old and due August 3, reportedly said, “Oh, there’s two of us.” When the cop asked where the other person was, Bottone, who was then 34 weeks pregnant, said “Baby girl is right there.” as she pointed to her enlarged middle.
The deputy who cited her said that it had to be “two bodies outside the body”. While the penal code in Texas recognizes a fetus as a separate person, the Texas Transportation Code doesn’t. I’d actually love to see if that distinction is expressly written in the Texas Transportation Code. Did the people who made the rules think about pregnant women, put upon by Texas’s onerous pro-life laws, consider that a pregnant person might try to find a loophole in the regulations pertaining to HOV lanes? If they did, I would be surprised.
Bottone explains that she got in the HOV lane because she needed to pick up her six year old son, and couldn’t be late. Bottone said that she explained that this was a “living child according to everything that’s going on with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. ‘So I don’t know why you’re not seeing that.'” Bottone was issued a $215 citation, which she plans to challenge in court this month. I say, good for her!
The cop who stopped Botone wasn’t interested in her argument and waved her on to another officer, who issued the ticket. Bottone said that the cop told her the ticket would probably be dropped if she fought it, but Bottone was angry that she was cited in the first place. She also says that she’s not “pro choice”, but she does think that women should have a choice in what they do with their bodies. It sounds to me like Bottone actually is pro-choice; she just doesn’t want an abortion for herself. That would describe most people who are “pro-choice”.
According to the Washington Post, an appellate lawyer in Texas named Chad Ruback had this to say about Bottone’s argument:
“I find her argument creative, but I don’t believe based on the current iteration of Texas Transportation Code that her argument would likely succeed in front of an appellate court,” he said. “That being said, it’s entirely possible she could find a trial court judge who would award her for her creativity.”
Ruback added, “This is a very unique situation in American jurisprudence.”
Ruback also said that it sounded more to him like Brandy Bottone just wanted to get out of paying her ticket. This isn’t about someone making a point about personhood or the overturning of Roe v. Wade. She just used the current political turmoil for her own purposes. It’s likely that the law will be changed, too, since she pointed out the loophole.
Naturally, I had to look at the comments. One guy wrote this:
Good Lord. The law is about getting other vehicles off the road to reduce traffic! To keep it simple they allow children . Can a fetus sit in their own seat???? She needs to pay her ticket!
A woman responded with this comment: Good lord. The fetus can’t live outside the womb and relies totally on the mother and yet she can’t make her own decisions about her body. That’s the real crime.
Another wrote this: …yet if you were driving a car that killed that fetus due to negligence on your part it would be reckless manslaughter. So yeah the fetus either counts or doesn’t. Can’t have it both ways.
Still another wrote this: …according to Texas state law a fetus is a sentient being provided with all the same “rights” as a born person. So, with that logic in mind the ticket is erroneous. And with the current SCOTUS position that a fetus is a living being deserving of rights she can now absolutely appeal the ticket with the argument that the fetus is a second passenger.
Bwahahaha… yeah. I noticed he got tons of rightfully indignant comments from those who think Texas’s intrusive laws are bullshit. But this was MY response, and I think it also has merit:
That fetus sits on her internal organs, making her need to pee like a racehorse. She doesn’t have time for traffic jams. I say, let her off… and let all the other pregnant ladies use the HOV lane.
One guy commended me for my “logic”, to which I added this: I say the fact that the fetus DOESN’T have its own seat should absolutely work in her favor!
The same guy who exclaimed indignantly that Bottone should pay kept commenting more of the same. He said:
A passenger has to be in a SEAT of the vehicle. Two people are not allowed to be in the same buckled seat!
I like how he added the word “buckled”, as if that matters. I mean, seatbelt use is required in Texas, and in fact they will enforce the law, possibly to the point of even arresting your ass if you disobey it. But I’ll bet money this commenter is all for forced birthing, and if that’s the case, then maybe he should think about the value of giving pregnant women this one perk. Because they are about to become people with different civil rights simply due to the fact that they’re hosting developing persons in their bodies.
It seems to me that conservative lawmakers want to have things both ways. Pretty soon, the people are going to challenge them in ways they never dreamed of, as they try to call developing fetuses persons with rights, as they don’t grant them rights when it’s expensive or inconvenient. Brandy Bottone may not prevail in her court case, but I have a feeling that she won’t be the only one to use this defense in similar situations. A Pandora’s Box has been cracked open, and pretty soon things will get very weird, if something isn’t done to protect a woman’s right to choose.
I do wish Brandy luck, both with her traffic ticket, and her soon to be blessed event. And good for her for being a quick thinking person who came up with a clever response to a stupid, overly intrusive law.