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Does this woman’s fetus count as a passenger in the HOV lanes?

Texas woman claims overturning Roe means her fetus counts as a passenger. Texas authorities maintain passengers must be ‘outside of the body.’

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A driver travels in the HOV lane on I-15 in Lehi on July 12, 2018.

A driver travels in the HOV lane on I-15 in Lehi on July 12, 2018. A pregnant Texas woman claims her unborn child allows her to drive in the HOV lane.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

After she got a $215 ticket for an alleged high-occupancy lane violation, a pregnant Texas woman plans to fight the offense claiming the overturn of Roe v. Wade means her unborn child counts as a passenger. 

The Dallas Morning News reported the incident involving Brandy Bottone, who got a $215 ticket after being pulled over on U.S. Highway 75 South on June 29. The Supreme Court ruled on June 24 to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion.

“An officer peeked in and asked, ‘Is there anybody else in the car?’” Bottone told the outlet. “I pointed to my stomach and said, ‘My baby girl is right here. She is a person.’”

According to the Dallas County Sheriff Department, Texas law states HOV lane users must have at least one passenger in the vehicle, and those passengers must be outside of the body.

The woman has a court date on July 20.

A Utah woman waged a similar fight in 1994 but a magistrate was unconvinced and imposed a $47 fine.

That woman, Mary Ellen Keppler, was six months pregnant when she received the ticket in March 1993.

Keppler, a nurse, told the magistrate that she considered a viable fetus a person.

“I’m a nurse, and when a pregnant woman enters our care we consider that two people,” Keppler said, acting as her own attorney.

According to a 1994 Deseret News report, Keppler acknowledged she was not seeking to establish a “grand principle.”

She admitted, “I’m just trying to save on my insurance rates.”

Under federal law, the occupancy requirement for use of a “HOV facility” is “no fewer than two occupants per vehicle.”

According to the Utah Department of Transportation’s frequently asked questions on express lanes “You must have a total of two or more people in your vehicle to qualify as a carpool.”

In Utah, fines for driving alone in the express lanes without an express pass may result in a fine of $337 or more, according to the website.