Once a ‘quintessential pro-life Texan,’ she had to flee her home state to get an abortion

A friend introduced her to her sister, Callie Lingo, at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Callie remembers that when she and Cade met, it was “a connection at first sight.”

A month after college graduation, Callie and Cade married in Marble Falls, Texas. They both pride themselves on being Texan native – Callie’s family has lived there for generations and Cade’s ancestors are among the “Old Three Hundred” of Texas, the original family that joined Stephen Austin to settle the area in the 1800s Were.

At the time, both DeSpains were completely anti-abortion.

“I was just your quintessential pro-life Texan,” Kelly, 29, told CNN in a recent interview.

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

A year after their marriage, Callie miscarried at 16 weeks and was hospitalized for serious complications, including blood clots and infection. It was one of three abortions that occurred in the early years of their marriage.

“It made me realize that pregnancy can be dangerous,” she said. “It made me think about my younger sisters, and I wished they might have a choice if they ever had to do something like this.”

Last September, when a restrictive anti-abortion law went into effect in Texas, Kelly took to Facebook to request people to contact their elected representatives to protect abortion rights.

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In November, Callie and Cade were overjoyed to learn that she was pregnant. Filled with hope, he posted ultrasound photos and a video of a penis showing a cannon shooting blue confetti. They named their child Finlay.

Then about three months later, they learn that Finlay has heart, lung, brain, kidney and genetic defects and will either be dead or die within minutes of birth. Carrying her at term put Kelly at higher risk for serious pregnancy complications, including blood clots, preeclampsia, and cancer.

Still, he could not get an abortion in Texas and fled to New Mexico.

Callie said through tears, “I’ve never felt more betrayed than in a place I was ever so proud of.”

“How can you be so cruel as to pass a law that you know will hurt women and you know that babies will be born in pain?” He added. “How human is he? How is he saving someone?”

CNN emailed Texas lawmakers who wrote or sponsored the state’s anti-abortion laws. Neither of them responded to CNN’s questions.

a serious prognosis for their child

When Callie and Cade found out she was pregnant, they were expecting a “sticky baby”—a pregnancy that would last after her three miscarriages.

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But after several ultrasounds, the doctors’ prognosis was dire: His heart, lung, kidney, and brain problems were serious, and his genetic disorder, called triploidy, meant he had an extra set of chromosomes. Doctors said that Finlay would either die before birth, or if he did end it, he would die a few minutes or an hour after birth.

One of his doctors told him, “Some of these things can be cured, but all of these things together — it can’t be cured,” recalls Callie.

She says the doctor told her that before Texas’ six-week abortion ban went into effect last September, they would have advised abortion as “the safest course for you.” [and] The most humane course of action for him.”

But the doctor said she couldn’t offer them an abortion in Texas. She said the only option to get one was to travel out of state.

Callie’s life in danger

Callie’s life could be in danger if Finlay was pregnant.

She has two blood clotting disorders, putting her at higher risk of having dangerous blood clots during pregnancy. In addition, mothers of babies with triploidy are more likely to have preeclampsia, a potentially fatal pregnancy disorder. In addition, there was an increased risk for a placental abnormality linked to cancer.

Callie said she considered risking her life to lead Finlay to term.

“I [wanted] to say goodbye,” she said. “I [wanted] chance to catch him.”

But then he wondered how Finlay would suffer if he struggled to breathe.

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“He’s going to suffocate, he’s going to die, and I’m going to see him do it,” she said.

For Cade, there was only one option: There was no point risking his wife’s life to have a child, who was sure to die quickly.

Cade told Callie “‘I’ll support you whatever decision you make, but I really don’t want to lose both of you,'” Callie recalls.

The couple opted for an abortion, driving 10 hours to a clinic in New Mexico. The cost of the procedure and visit is $3,500. He hoped that his insurance would cover the procedure, but Texas law strictly limits abortion coverage, and the clinic told him that his insurance company refused to pay.

The DeSpains didn’t have enough money — Callie said she was docked at work because she had too many sick days — so Cade asked a relative to give her $3,500 as “the epitome of a Trump fanboy.” calls for. , The relative softened when Cade said without an abortion, he might end up a widower at age 30.

Cade said he didn’t like asking for money, but “my job as a husband is to protect my wife and love her. If I’m not fighting to keep her here, I’ve failed.”

Callie had a miscarriage in March when she was 19 weeks pregnant.

‘I’m still very angry and hurt’

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

John Seago said that “Texas law is very clear under what circumstances abortion can be performed” and “what happened [Kailee] And the response of his physicians was a complete misinterpretation of the law. And this should never have happened.”

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But Katie Keith, director of the Health Policy and Law Initiative at Georgetown University Law Center, said Texas’ abortion laws — one that went into effect last year and another that went into effect last month — aren’t quite clear and “deliberately tend to be vague and broad.” are designed.”
For example, a recent law states that abortion can be performed if the mother’s “life-threatening physical condition is aggravated, resulting from pregnancy, that puts the woman at risk of death or serious risk.” produces. The loss of a major bodily function.”

“They don’t exactly describe the situations when an abortion can be provided,” Keith said.

Callie said her doctors told her they could abort her only if she was at imminent risk of dying — essentially if she was “‘dying on the table.’ ,

If a physician is found to be in breach of the law, there can be harsh punishments: hefty fines, loss of their medical license and potentially life in prison.

Also, citizens can file lawsuits against physicians they believe have performed illegal abortions, and if they win, they could receive a $10,000 reward. If the doctor is at wrong and the doctor wins the lawsuit, the doctor still has to pay his own legal fees, as Texas law specifically prohibits doctors from charging a plaintiff.

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“Facing the potential of becoming a criminal and facing life in prison just for trying to care for patients has been horrifying and I would be lying if I said I had not considered leaving the state,” Dr. Leah Tatum, a spokeswoman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who practices in Austin, Texas, and has treated patients in conditions similar to Kelly’s since the passage of Texas’s anti-abortion laws.

Texas law that went into effect last year prohibited most abortions at the start of a fetal heartbeat, which can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many people know they are pregnant. It was one of the oldest and most restrictive abortion laws. Laws banning abortion or severely restricting the procedure have come into force in nearly a dozen states after the US Supreme Court on June 24 abolished the constitutional right to abortion.

Callie says the last time she saw her obstetrician, he advised her not to get pregnant in Texas.

“She said ‘It’s not safe,'” remembers Callie. “She said, I need to look at you. I need you to understand that if you get pregnant in Texas and if you have complications, I can’t intervene until I can prove it.” Give that you’re going to die.” ,

The DeSpains say they are thinking of leaving Texas, but leaving their jobs and their families will be difficult.

Callie said she’s sharing her story in hopes of raising awareness so that “stories like mine can change enough voters’ perspectives.”

“I’m still so angry and hurt about it that I can hardly look straight,” she wrote on Facebook the day after the miscarriage. “Finley and I were just collateral damage in a much bigger picture. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the thought process of lawmakers allowing a mother to make a decision rather than letting a full-term baby kneel to death.” The child who spares him gives that pain.”

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

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