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Pregnant woman fined for using carpool lane argues foetus counts as passenger in Roe v. Wade reversal irony

A pregnant woman has made the most of the US’ Roe v. Wade reversal after being fined a $275 traffic ticket. As initially reported by the New York Post, Brandy Bottone from Plano, Texas, said she was stopped at a sheriff’s checkpoint targeting high-occupancy vehicle lane (HOV) drivers going against the rules.

By law in the country, in order to be legally accepted in the lanes, at least one passenger must be in the car accompanying the driver. Bottone was driving down Central Expressway approaching the exit for I-635 when she was stopped by an officer.

When questioned about why she was using the lane and where her passenger was, Bottone pointed to her stomach and said, “My baby girl is right here. She is a person.” Despite being 34 weeks pregnant at the time of the stop, the officer told her that her unborn child did not count as another passenger.

To this, the soon-to-be mother counterargued, “Well [I’m] not trying to throw a political mix here, but with everything going on [with Roe v. Wade], this counts as a baby.” Bottone was referencing the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision—allowing many states, including Texas, to introduce more restrictive abortion laws.

The police officer didn’t seem keen to listen to Bottone’s argument, saying “Ma’am, it means two persons outside of the body.” In the end, she was fined a $275 ticket, which she now plans to fight in court.

The news made headlines for how Bottone turned the tables on the country’s controversial approach to abortion rights. Many pointed out how ironic it is that law enforcement doesn’t consider a foetus to be a separate person, but the Supreme Court does.

PEOPLE reported that, according to the Texas penal code, the term “individual means a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilisation until birth.” In 2021, Texas passed a bill commonly referred to as the ‘heartbeat ban’ or ‘heartbeat bill’, which prohibits abortions after a foetal heartbeat can be detected. In most cases, this is around six weeks—a timeframe that many argue to be too soon for many women to know they are pregnant.

Bottone’s court date is currently set for 20 July.

US lawmaker wants men to get mandatory vasectomy following Roe v. Wade decision

In May 2022, Oklahoma State Representative Mickey Dollens invited his fellow lawmakers to co-author a bill which would give a mandatory vasectomy to every young man in the state. The sterilisation would only be reversed once each man could prove they were both financially and emotionally stable to parent a child.

If you think this idea sounds ridiculous, that’s because Dollens is only raising the bill to make a point that the state—along with the rest of the country—having such invasive control over a person’s body is ridiculous too.

Following the news of Friday 24 June that the Supreme Court made the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively ruling that the constitution will not safeguard a woman’s right to an abortion, this invasive control is exactly what will happen to millions in the US.

Hence, performing an abortion became a criminal offence in Oklahoma on Friday. Anyone who gets the medical procedure done at any point after fertilisation in the state can now be subject to penalties ranging from two to five years in prison. The life of the mother is the lone exception for the state-specific law. A woman having an abortion would not be charged.

“Oklahoma’s law is very clear now,” state Attorney General John O’Connor said during a news conference. “Law enforcement is now activated in respect to any effort to aid, abet or solicit any abortions.”

A law that will further increase the potential penalties to ten years as well as a fine of $100,000 for performing an abortion is set to go into effect on 26 August. The only exceptions to Oklahoma’s new abortion laws are in the case of rape or incest, only if they have been reported to the authorities.

Considering the introduction of legislation to force men into having vasectomies as early as next year, Dollens suggested to Republicans, who thought he was being ‘crazy’, that now “maybe you understand how 50 per cent of Oklahomans feel.”

Though Republicans have famously argued that there is “nothing higher or more critical than the defence of innocent, unborn life,” Dollens has pointed out that instead this is simply a massive overturning of rights and freedoms that women in the US have enjoyed for almost 50 years.

Understandably, the Supreme Court’s verdict on Roe v. Wade has attracted widespread condemnation, with large protests in the US and international figures speaking out against the ruling. As the verdict from the conservative-dominated court is expected to lead individual states to enforce abortion bans, women all over the country have vowed to go on a ‘sex strike’ against men.

Protests have been held across the US and outside American consulates abroad. President Joe Biden even called the overturning of Roe v. Wade “a sad day for the court and for the country.” He encouraged voters to take their anger at the Supreme Court’s decision and channel it against the Republicans in the midterm elections due to be held in November 2022.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas suggested gay marriage could be the next thing overturned…