NORFOLK, Nebraska – A Nebraska mother has been sentenced to two years in prison for her involvement in her teenage daughter’s illegal abortion. Jessica Burgess, 42, pleaded guilty to tampering with human remains, false reporting, and providing an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, which is against the law in Nebraska. Madison County District Judge Mark Johnson handed down the sentence on Friday, with Burgess set to serve one year for each count, to be served concurrently.
Burgess’s attorney had requested probation, but the judge rejected the plea, citing Burgess’s initial lies to investigators and her use of online means to obtain abortion pills instead of seeking medical assistance within the state. The judge expressed his disappointment in Burgess’s lack of respect for the unborn child.
The case revolves around Burgess’s admission that she assisted her then-17-year-old daughter in terminating her pregnancy. As part of her plea, charges of concealing the death of another person and abortion by someone other than a licensed physician were dropped. Burgess’s daughter, Celeste Burgess, received a 90-day jail sentence and two years of probation for burning and burying the fetus.
Both mother and daughter were visibly emotional as Jessica Burgess was taken into custody. She may be eligible for release after serving approximately one year. The abortion, which occurred well into the teen’s third trimester, violated Nebraska law, which prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. The investigation into the abortion was initiated following a tip received by the Norfolk police, leading to the discovery of Facebook messages between the two women discussing the termination and disposal of the fetus.
This case has drawn attention to the ongoing debate surrounding abortion access in Nebraska.