A Nebraska woman who acquired abortion pills that her teenage daughter used to end her pregnancy last year was sentenced on Friday to two years in prison.
The woman, Jessica Burgess, 42, was charged after police found her private Facebook messages, which revealed plans she had with her daughter to end the pregnancy and “burn the evidence.”
Prosecutors said that Burgess ordered the pills online and gave them to her daughter, Celeste Burgess, in April 2022, when her daughter was 17 and in the third trimester of her pregnancy. The Burgesses later buried the foetal remains, authorities said.
Burgess pleaded guilty in July to violating Nebraska’s abortion law, furnishing false information to a law enforcement officer and removing or concealing human skeletal remains. Celeste Burgess was sentenced in July to 90 days in jail and two years of probation after she pleaded guilty in May to removing or concealing human skeletal remains.
Jessica Burgess, who faced up to five years in prison, was sentenced to two years, with her terms for false reporting and removal of skeletal remains running concurrently.
Brad Ewalt, a lawyer for Burgess, asked Judge Mark A. Johnson of Madison County District Court on Friday to sentence his client to probation. The judge denied the request, saying that Burgess had treated the fetal remains “like yesterday’s trash,” The Norfolk Daily News reported.
Celeste Burgess, who was released from jail on September 11, sat near the back of the courtroom on Friday and wiped tears from her face when her mother was sentenced, the Daily News reported. Ewalt and the Madison County prosecutor who tried the case did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
A police investigation into the Burgesses began before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The case has fueled fears that people who end their pregnancies in the post-Roe era, and those who help them, could be prosecuted for having abortions and that their private communications could be used as evidence against them.
New York Times News Service