Mother Jessica Burgess Sentenced to Prison
Jessica Burgess, a Nebraska mother, has been sentenced to two years in prison for her alleged involvement in her teenage daughter’s attempt to terminate her pregnancy using pills. The case revolves around the actions of Burgess and her daughter, Celeste Burgess, in April 2022.
Accusations of Ending the Pregnancy
Prosecutors have accused the mother-daughter duo of collaborating to terminate Celeste Burgess’ pregnancy. Allegedly, they obtained pills to induce an abortion, and as a result, Celeste Burgess gave birth to a stillborn fetus.
At the time, Nebraska law prohibited abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a restriction that the pregnancy had clearly surpassed.
Handling of Fetal Remains
Police investigators claim that the Burgesses buried the fetal remains, and there are indications that the remains may have been subjected to burning, according to court documents.
Jessica Burgess’s Guilty Plea and Sentencing
Jessica Burgess entered a guilty plea in July, admitting to charges of false reporting, providing an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, and concealing, removing, or abandoning a dead human body.
She received a sentence of one year in prison for each charge, but her sentences for false reporting and tampering with human remains will run concurrently. The sentence for the illegal abortion is to be served consecutively with the sentences for the other charges.
Celeste Burgess’s Plea Deal and Sentence
Celeste Burgess also entered a plea deal and was sentenced to 90 days for concealing or abandoning a dead body earlier this year.
Implications in the Post-Roe Era
This case, even though it occurred before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, is seen as a potential indicator of how law enforcement may handle cases of individuals attempting to end their pregnancies in a post-Roe era. It raises questions about the role of giant tech companies in such cases.
Tech Company’s Involvement
Court documents in the case revealed that Meta, Facebook’s parent company, supplied police with private Facebook messages exchanged between Celeste and Jessica Burgess. In one message, Celeste mentioned, “Remember we burn the evidence.”
Challenges in Abortion Laws
While most states do not criminalize individuals for self-managed abortions, this case underscores concerns from abortion rights advocates. They have long cautioned that if a prosecutor is determined to target someone for a self-managed abortion, they could potentially find a statute that allows for prosecution.
Celeste Burgess’s Release
Celeste Burgess was released from Madison county jail after serving slightly over half of her 90-day sentence earlier this month.
She mentioned during her sentencing that her family could not afford a funeral for the fetal remains, citing financial difficulties. Celeste Burgess also faces multiple mental health issues and became pregnant as a result of an abusive relationship.
Psychological Evaluation Cancellation
Jessica Burgess was slated to undergo a court-ordered psychological evaluation before her sentencing, but it was canceled due to a lack of funding, as reported by KTIV.
Changing Abortion Laws in Nebraska
It’s worth noting that Nebraska law now restricts nearly all abortions beyond 12 weeks of pregnancy, reflecting evolving abortion legislation in the state.