Should pregnant drivers be allowed in the HOV lane? And other questions raised by fetal personhood

Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2023 - 2:41pm
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2023 - 7:19am
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A Texas woman made headlines last summer when she was issued a $275 ticket for driving in the HOV lane alone. Though, she says she was not alone — she was in her third trimester of pregnancy at the time, and she counted the baby as a person.

The story came just as the national debate around abortion ramped up after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Texas anti-abortion laws were already a subject of debate.

Who can drive in the HOV lane might seem like an inconsequential part of this fight, but legal experts say the incident raises an array of questions about an issue that’s central to the abortion debate: fetal personhood.

Arizona passed a law in 2021 that established that a fetus has the same rights that a person does, but that law has been blocked in the courts. Now, Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow pregnant women to drive in the HOV lane here; similar bills have been introduced in other states.

Mary Ziegler says the question of when life begins and who counts as a person is only going to become more central to the abortion conversation. She is a law professor at the University of California, Davis and the author of several books on abortion history and the law.

She told The Show that the goal of the pro-life movement going back to the 1960s was not to overturn Roe v. Wade, but to establish fetal personhood.

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