A Nebraska mother pleaded guilty on Friday to giving her 17-year-old daughter medications to perform an abortion in 2022 and helping the teen burn and bury the fetus in a field.
Jessica Burgess, 42, of Norfolk, was charged with breaking what was then the state’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, as well as accused of falsely reporting and tampering with human skeletal remains, according to the Associated Press.
Previous charges of concealing a death and performing an abortion without a medical license were dismissed as part of the plea deal.
Burgess’s daughter, Celeste, now 18, has been charged as an adult and pleaded guilty in May to removing, concealing, or abandoning a dead body.
The abortion took place before the Supreme Court overturn Roe v Wade and the constitutional right to an abortion in the summer of 2022.
Police began investigating the case in late April of that year, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
The women later told police Celeste had given birth to a stillborn baby in the shower, and that they put the body in a bag in their van then buried it with the help of a 22-year-old on a property the man’s parents owned, according to the paper.
(Last year, the man pleaded no contest for helping bury the fetus and got probation.)
Celeste was 23 weeks or nearly six months pregnant at the time, according to medical records obtained by police, well past the state’s then 20-week abortion ban.
Prosecutors obtained Facebook messages between the family members as part of their case.
“(Celeste Burgess) talks about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body and reaffirms with (Jessica Burgess) that they will burn the evidence afterwards,” a police detective wrote in court documents, describing the content of the messages.
In May of 2023, Nebraska joined the many Republican-controlled states restricting abortion after Roe, and outlawed the procedure after 12 weeks.
Jessica Burgess is scheduled to be sentenced in September, while her daughter will be sentenced later this month.
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