A Nebraska court sentenced a mother to two years in prison Friday for giving her teenage daughter abortion pills and then helping to burn and bury the fetus, the Associated Press reported.
Madison County District Judge Mark Johnson sentenced Jessica Burgess, 42, 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. Abortions after 20 weeks of gestation were banned in Nebraska at the time. (RELATED: Woman Who Burned Her Aborted Fetus Gets 90 Days In Jail)
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Working on a tip, the Norfolk police opened an investigation and secured a search warrant to examine Facebook messages between the mother and daughter, according to AP. 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,” Judge Johnson said. “Our society expects more; it demands more.”
The judge refused to honor a request for probation sought by Burgess’ attorney, stating Burgess demonstrated that she knew she was in violation of the state’s abortion law by going to “extraordinary means” to get the pills online instead of through a licensed Nebraska medical provider, the Norfolk Daily News reported.
Burgess’ daughter, now 19, received 90 days in jail and two years-probation at her sentencing in July for burning and burying the fetus, according to AP. The outlet reported that she was released from jail on September 11.
Burgess and her daughter both broke down weeping in the courtroom Friday when she was led away in handcuffs to begin serving her sentence, according to the New York Daily News.
She will be eligible for release after one year, AP reported.