Jessica Burgess is 41 years old and her daughter, Celeste, is 18. The mother was charged on Wednesday for helping her daughter carry out an illegal abortion when she was 17 years old. The pregnancy was ended at about 23 weeks. In their home state of Nebraska, performing an abortion after 20 weeks is illegal, a restriction that was passed in 2010.
According to the prosecutor handling the case, the mother obtained abortion pills for the daughter and then helped her to bury the fetus. The investigation includes a two-page conversation that the two had on April 20 on Facebook Messenger, in which they discussed the purchase and use of these pills. The case has once again raised debate raised about how the personal information women share online can be used against them when it comes to reproductive rights. This debate came to the fore months ago, even before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, the landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973.
The investigation into the Burgess began in April, after another woman, an alleged friend of Celeste’s, told police that she had seen the 17-year-old take the first pill, according to an affidavit from Detective Ben McBride of the Norfolk police, which was reported by Spanish news agency EFE. This sparked the probe into the mother and daughter.
In early June, Celeste and Jessica Burgess were charged with a single felony for removing, concealing or abandoning a body, and two misdemeanors: concealing the death of another person and false reporting. Investigators then requested all the mother’s Facebook data since April 15: photographs, audios and videos, private messages and other account information. They wanted to know if she had committed other crimes.