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'The child I dreamed of': Texan has abortion in New Mexico because her life was at risk

After three failed pregnancies, Kailee DeSpain thought the fourth would be the one. She soon found that if she carried the baby to term her life would be at risk.

AUSTIN, Texas — Kailee DeSpain has dreamed of becoming a mom for years.

"I was pregnant for the first time at 21 years old," she said. "I miscarried that baby at 12 weeks. The doctors just kind of assured us that'll never happen again."

However, it did happen again. When she was 23, DeSpain got her second positive pregnancy test. When she reached 16 weeks, she gave birth, but the baby didn't make it.

She got pregnant again at 28 and miscarried that baby. In late 2021, she got her fourth positive test. Baby Finley.

"With Finley, everything was fine," she added. "Nobody was really worried about anything."

Credit: Kailee DeSpain

DeSpain thought this would be the baby she could finally carry to full term. He had a strong heartbeat.

"We always wondered why his heart was so fast," she said. "Why his heart so strong?"

She went for her routine scan at 16 weeks, and that's when she got the news baby Finley wasn't a healthy baby.

"He didn't have heart chambers," added DeSpain. "All the blood was pooled inside of his heart, and the blood couldn't get out to know where it was supposed to go."

He had several defects. He was missing one kidney, and blood couldn’t reach the other because of his heart. His brain had split. His heart was too big, and if he made it to full term, his lungs would not be fully developed, and he'd likely die in-utero. Doctors told DeSpain that if she followed through with this pregnancy, it could be dangerous for her as well. 

They suggested she get an abortion, but under Senate Bill 8, after a fetal heartbeat is detected, abortion is only allowed in cases where it would save the pregnant patient’s life or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function.”

That meant that DeSpain couldn't get an abortion as she wasn't in immediate danger. While she was at risk and it was possible complications would present themselves later on, that wasn't – and isn't – enough under Texas law.

"The very next day, I called and made an appointment in New Mexico," said added. 

While she didn't want to have this abortion, she knew her baby wouldn't survive, and her life was at risk. 

"We drove 10 hours out of state," she recalled. "I was 19 weeks along and had an abortion in New Mexico at a clinic."

I was 21 when I got my first positive pregnancy test. I miscarried at 12 weeks. I never got to meet her. We named her...

Posted by Kailee Lingo DeSpain on Saturday, May 7, 2022

And that was baby Finley's story. The ashes were mailed back to her in Texas, and now she's unsure of what the future holds. While she has doctors who can potentially help her carry her next baby to term, knowing her options are limited in the state scares her. 

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