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Women would be able to count fetuses as passengers under new Virginia bill

I-95 Express Lanes
Posted at 1:44 PM, Jan 12, 2023

A Virginia lawmaker wants to amend a law that would allow pregnant women to use HOV lanes.

Nick Freitas, a Republican, filed HB 1894. It says pregnant women should be considered two people when using a high-occupancy vehicle lane.

Under the bill, if a woman is ticketed by photo enforcement or pulled over by a law enforcement agency, she would be allowed to prove she is pregnant to avoid a fine.

The bill also requests that the state establish a process that allows pregnant women to certify that she is pregnant.

"Such woman shall not be issued any citation or required to refute a citation issued via a photo-enforcement system, provided that she has properly registered with the Department pursuant to this subsection," the bill states.

The bill also addresses privacy, noting that information collected can only be used for enforcing the high-occupancy requirements. It states that information cannot be made public or sold. The bill would also require the information to be purged after a year or when a woman notifies the state that she is no longer pregnant.

The bill was filed at a time when the country grapples with when a fetus is considered a person. Numerous Republican-led states have banned or restricted abortion rights following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year, claiming life starts at conception.

Following the decision, a woman in Texas tried to fight an HOV citation, claiming she was pregnant when she was using the lane. However, she was still fined $215 for driving alone in a two-or-more-occupant lane.

The woman cited inconsistencies in the state law since it prohibits abortions after about six weeks when a fetal "heartbeat" can be detected. A judge ended up dismissing the ticket.