'They were calling me a murderer': Texas woman who survived cancer drives 10 hours for abortion to avoid death

'No one owes you their story. But I am giving you mine hoping it opens your eyes.'
Posted at 4:58 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 23:43:01-04

At the first of the year, Kailee and Cade DeSpain thought their dreams of having a baby would finally come true.

"I want to have a child more than anything," Kailee said, holding a giraffe with her son Finley's last recorded heartbeat.

Kailee, who previously survived cervical cancer, has struggled for years with pregnancy. She was on their fourth pregnancy after two ended in miscarriages and one daughter was born at 16 weeks and failed to survive.

After discovering some health issues, doctors thought this would be the opportunity. One meeting would change the couple's life plans once again.

"They took us back into a little meeting room," said Kailee.

It was in that room when they discovered Finley’s heart lacked chambers in it to direct blood flow. His brain was split, and his organs weren't growing properly and weren’t functioning the way they needed for survival.

"You can carry him to term, but your baby is going to die," doctors told Kailee and Cade DeSpain.

It was discovered that Finley had triploidy, meaning an extra set of chromosomes present in each cell. In the U.S., this disease is estimated to be less than 200,000.

Because of past medical issues, Kailee's doctor thought it was best for the 28-year-old to go out of state for an abortion. The doctor told Kailee because of recent Texas state law changes regarding abortion, medical professionals couldn't do anything until she was in the process of dying.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is joined by state and city officials as he gives an update on the coronavirus outbreak in San Antonio. Even before a strict abortion ban took effect in Texas this week, clinics in neighboring states were fielding more and more calls from women desperate for options. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The Heartbeat Law from The Texas Legislature bans abortion after the detection of embryonic or fetal cardiac activity that can occur after about six weeks of pregnancy.

"I will not know a single day of peace until I can govern my own body, and everything that goes on inside of it, in the state I once loved," Kailee said.

There is an exception. If the pregnancy puts the mother in danger, an abortion is allowed. The problem is doctors being able to prove the mother's life is in danger and that they are confident the courts will agree with their opinion if they are sued.

"You've got to be on the table knocking on the door of death," Kailee said.

We have reached out to Gov. Greg Abbott's office — and they have not responded to our requests for comment.

Taking the doctor's advice she packed up and drove 10 hours to New Mexico.

"There are protesters lining the sidewalks and one of them has a megaphone and they're screaming at me please don't kill your baby," said Kailee, a public school teacher.

She had to go in alone because of protests and threats to abortion clinics around the country.

"I turn around and I remember yelling at her, 'My baby has triploidy! He's going to die!'" Kailee said.

Since then, the doctor has told the couple that she's now telling her high-risk patients if they're going to have a child to leave the state of Texas.

"This is my life," Kailee said. "I am angry because this is my life on the line. I want to be able to have a child."

The couple grew up in Texas and had no plans to move. Now they are looking at transferring their professional licenses and starting a family in another state.