Once a ‘typical anti-abortion Texan’, she had to flee her hometown for an abortion


The friend introduced him to his sorority sister Kailee Lingo at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Kelly recalls that when she and Cade first met, it was “love at first sight.”

A month after graduating from college, Kelly and Cade got married in Marble Falls, Texas. They were both proud to be Texans: Kelly’s family had lived there for generations, Cade’s ancestors were part of the Texas “Old Three Hundred,” who joined Stephen in the 1800s F. Austin’s first families to settle in the area.

At the time, German Spaniards were strongly opposed to abortion.

“I’m just your typical pro-life Texan,” Kelly, 29, told CNN in a recent interview.

“I was raised in central Texas by ultra-Republican parents and grandparents,” said Cade, 31. “One hundred percent pro-life.»

After a year of marriage, Kelly suffered a miscarriage at 16 weeks and was hospitalized with serious complications, including blood clots and infection. It was one of three miscarriages early in her marriage.

“It made me realize that pregnancy can be dangerous,” she said. “It reminds me of my little sisters, and if they have to go through something like this, I want them to have a choice. »

When a restrictive anti-abortion law went into effect in Texas last September, Kelly took to Facebook to plead with people to reach out to elected officials to protect abortion rights.

In November, Kelly and Cade were thrilled to learn she was pregnant. They hopefully released ultrasound images and a sex revealing video of a cannon firing blue confetti. They named their baby boy Finley.

Then, about three months later, they learned that Finley had heart, lung, brain, kidney and genetic defects and would be stillborn or die within minutes of birth. Bringing it to term puts Kylie at high risk for serious pregnancy complications, including blood clots, preeclampsia and cancer.

Even so, they were unable to get an abortion in Texas and fled to New Mexico.

“I’ve never been betrayed by a place that used to make me proud,” Kelly said tearfully.

“How can you be so cruel to pass a law that you know will hurt women and give birth to babies in pain?” she added. “How human is this? How does this save anyone?

CNN emailed Texas lawmakers who wrote or sponsored the state’s anti-abortion laws. None of them answered CNN’s questions.

grim prognosis for their children

When Kailee and Cade found out she was pregnant, they desperately hoped to have a “slimy baby” — a pregnancy that lasted — after her three miscarriages.

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But after several ultrasounds, the doctor’s prognosis was dire: Her heart, lungs, kidneys and brain were all serious problems, and her genetic condition was called triploid, meaning he has an extra set of chromosomes. Doctors said Finley either died before birth, or if he was full-term, he would die within minutes or at most an hour after birth.

One of their doctors told them, “Some of these problems can be fixed, but all of them combined—can’t be fixed,” recalls Kelly.

She said doctors told them she would recommend abortion as “the safest thing to do” until Texas’ six-week abortion ban went into effect last September. [and] The most humane thing to do for him. »

But doctors said she couldn’t provide them with abortions in Texas. The only option, she said, was to travel abroad.

Kelly’s life in danger

Pregnancy with Finley could put Kelly’s life at risk.

She suffers from two blood clotting disorders, which put her at a higher risk of developing dangerous blood clots during pregnancy. In addition, mothers of triploid babies were more likely to develop preeclampsia, a life-threatening pregnancy disorder.In addition, there is an increased risk placental abnormalities related to cancer.

Kelly said she considered risking her life to send Finley to the semester.

” I [wanted] Say goodbye, she said.I [wanted] Take its chance. »

But then she thought about how much Finley was going through when he struggled to breathe.

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“He would suffocate, he would die, and I would watch him do it,” she said.

For Cade, there was only one option: It didn’t make sense for him to risk his wife’s life to have a child who was sure to die soon.

Cade told Kylie, “‘I’m going to support you no matter what you decide, but I really don’t want to lose the two of you,'” recalls Kylie.

The couple opted for an abortion and drove 10 hours to a clinic in New Mexico. Surgery and travel costs $3,500.They want their insurance to cover the program, but Texas Law severely limits abortion coverageThe clinic told them that their insurance company refused to pay.

German Spaniards don’t have enough money — Kelly says she’s lost pay at work because she’s taking too much sick leave — so Cade asks a relative he describes as an “avatar of Trump fans” for them $3,500. The relative relented when Cade said he would find himself a widower at 30 if he didn’t have an abortion.

Cade said he doesn’t like asking for money, but “my job as a husband is to protect and love my wife. If I don’t try to keep her here, I’m a failure.»

Kelly had an abortion in March when she was 19 weeks pregnant.

“I’m still angry and hurt”

While lawmakers did not respond to CNN’s questions about the Kelly case, the president of Texas Right to Life did.

John Seago says ‘Texas law is very clear about the circumstances in which abortion can be performed’ and ‘what’s going on’ [Kailee] His doctor’s response was an absolute perversion of the law. That shouldn’t happen. »

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But Katie Keith, director of health policy and legal advocacy at the Georgetown University Law Center, said Texas’ abortion laws — one that went into effect last year and another last month — are not clear, and is “by design”. Intentionally vague and broad”.

recent correctFor example, an abortion may be performed if the mother “has developed a life-threatening aggravated medical condition as a result of the pregnancy that puts the woman at risk of death or serious risk of serious damage to her life.”

“They didn’t specify the circumstances under which an abortion could be performed,” Keith said.

Kelly said her doctors told her to only have an abortion if she was in imminent danger of dying — basically, if she “died on the table.” »

If a doctor is caught breaking the law, the penalties can be severe: hefty fines, revocation of medical licenses, and even life in prison.

Additionally, citizens can sue doctors they believe are performing illegal abortions, and if they win, they can get a $10,000 reward. If the citizen is wrong and the doctor wins the lawsuit, the doctor still has to pay his own legal costs, because Texas law expressly prohibits doctors from recovering costs from plaintiffs.

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“Facing the possibility of being a felon and facing life in prison for just trying to care for a sick person is horrific, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering leaving the state,” Dr. Lia Tatum said. , a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who practices in Austin, Texas, has treated patients in situations similar to Kelly’s since the passage of the Texas anti-abortion law.

A Texas law that went into effect last year prohibits most abortions at the start of fetal heart activity, which can occur as early as the sixth week of pregnancy and before many people know they are pregnant. This is one of the oldest and strictest abortion laws. Laws banning abortion or severely restricting abortion procedures took effect in more than a dozen states after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion on June 24.

Kelly said the last time she saw her obstetrician, she advised her not to get pregnant in Texas.

“She said ‘it’s not safe,'” recalls Kelly. She said, ‘I need you to watch me. I need you to understand that if you are pregnant in Texas and have complications, I cannot intervene until I can prove that you are going to die. »

DeSpains said they were considering leaving Texas, but leaving their jobs and families would be difficult.

Kelly said they are sharing their stories in hopes of raising awareness so that “a story like mine can sufficiently change the perspective of voters.”

“I’m still so angry and hurt, I can barely see,” she wrote Facebook day after miscarriage. “Looking at the bigger picture, Finley and I are just collateral damage. I have a hard time understanding the thought process of legislators who would rather suffocate a full-term baby than let a mother make the decision to save her child from suffering . »

CNN’s Nadia Kounang and John Bonifield contributed to this report.

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