Last month, a pregnant woman in Texas was fined for traveling alone in the driveway for cars carrying at least two passengers (the person named car use, shared cars). The woman, Brandi Button, defended herself by saying that her 34-week-old fetus should be considered a person under state law, and that she did not deserve to be fined for it. Bouton’s claim refers to the Texas penal code rule that fetuses are considered persons.
Texas is a Republican-led state, historically composed of a very conservative party, and has always had very restrictive laws on abortion. Among them is what is specifically mentioned in the Penal Code, which recognizes the placement of individuals on fetuses. Until a few weeks ago, these laws were in fact unenforceable due to the federal right to terminate a pregnancy guaranteed by “Roe v. Wade.” At the end of June, however, the sentence has been turned over by the Supreme Court, and individual states began to be able to legislate independently on the subject—or to be able to enforce laws they had previously agreed to—without any restrictions and with some contradictory results such as Bouton’s case.
Bouton is 32, with three children and a fourth on the way who is due to be born in August. Stopped by the local Dallas police in the multi-passenger car lane, she tried to convince the police officer that the fetus in her womb was for all intents and purposes a second person but still was fined $275. Bouton has appealed against the legality of the fine and a hearing in his case is scheduled for July 20.
Bouton told the press that he did not object to the fine for taking a political stance on abortion, but simply believed he had the right to lead down this path, just as he had done during his previous three pregnancies. “Given everything that’s happened, I’m not trying to make a big political issue out of her, but obviously this is a kid,” he commented.meeting with CNN.
The The New York Times He explained That Texas penal code recognizes a person’s position in relation to fetuses “at every stage of pregnancy”: for example, if a pregnant woman is killed, the victim is counted as two, not just one. However, this provision is limited to the Penal Code and no law has been passed (the so-called Fetal Personality Law) which determines the person’s position in relation to fetuses at all levels, and thus bypasses the cases governed by the Penal Code. This is the case of the highway icon, who does not consider fetuses to be travelers and for this reason, according to experts, it is unlikely that Bouton is right.
In the United States, in the past decade, three states have legally recognized fetuses as people at all levels: Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona respectively in 2018, 2019 and 2021. Wade, which recognized the federal right to abortion, these laws were effectively banned by the courts before enforce them, but now that things have changed the exact definition of what a person is, it becomes more pressing.
Recognition of a person’s position in relation to fetuses from the first weeks of pregnancy is a topic very dear to those who deny the right to abortion, because in fact it allows to place the termination of pregnancy on the same level as murder. But it also has many effects in other areas of daily life unrelated to abortion.
For example, defining a fetus as a person from the first weeks of pregnancy can have a significant impact on issues such as in vitro fertilization (ie where the egg and sperm are combined in the laboratory) or the right to an abortion if this occurs. from rape. But not only this: it may be necessary to redefine the method of population counting, the tax system or the allocation of economic support to families.
Some organizations defending the right to abortion in the United States have commented on Bouton’s case, noting the strong contradictions that result from the repeal of the “Roe v. Wade” Act. Texas Right to Life, Texas’ largest anti-abortion organization, said it sided with Bouton and that all fetuses “should be recognized as Texas in every area of society.”
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