On Friday, a mother in Nebraska was sentenced to two years in prison after she gave her teenage daughter abortion pills and then helped to burn and bury the fetus, The Associated Press reported.
Madison County District Judge Mark Johnson sentenced 42-year-old Jessica Burgess for tampering with human remains, false reporting, and providing an abortion after at least 20 weeks of gestation, AP reported. Burgess, of Norfolk, Nebraska, confessed at her plea hearing to helping terminate the pregnancy of her then 17-year-old daughter, Celeste Burgess.
Officials said Burgess ordered abortion pills online and gave them to her daughter in the spring of 2022 when she was into her third trimester, AP reported. At the time, abortions after 20 weeks of gestation were banned in Nebraska.
According to AP, Norfolk police were tipped off to the situation and opened an investigation, securing a search warrant to examine Facebook messages between the mother and daughter.
After unearthing discussions between the two regarding terminating the pregnancy, including one alleged message where Celeste wrote, “I will finally be able to wear jeans,” police found the burned remains in a field near Norfolk.
“I shudder to think, Ms. Burgess, that you have such disrespect for a — call it a human fetus, call it a stillborn child — that you would treat it like yesterday’s trash and not give it some respect in its treatment and disposal,” Madison County District Judge Mark Johnson said. “Our society expects more; it demands more.”
Additionally, the judge denied a request for probation sought by Burgess’ attorney, stating that she demonstrated that she was fully aware she was in violation of the state’s abortion law by going to “extraordinary means” to get the pills online, rather than through a licensed Nebraska medical provider, the Norfolk Daily News reported.
Burgess’ daughter, now 19, was sentenced in July, receiving 90 days in jail and two years probation for burning and burying the fetus, according to AP. She was reportedly released from jail on Sept. 11.
The New York Daily News reported that Burgess and her daughter both broke down crying in the courtroom on Friday, as she was led away in handcuffs to begin serving her sentence. She will be eligible for release in one year.
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