Nebraska teen jailed for illegal disposal of her aborted foetus

Celeste Burgess
Celeste Burgess, 19, was sentenced to 90 days in prison. (Image: Austin Svehla /Norfolk Daily News)

A US teenager was sentenced to 90 days in prison after taking abortion pills to end her pregnancy and disposing of the foetus with her mother’s help.

Celeste Burgess, now 19, pleaded guilty to illegally concealing human remains after she had an abortion when around 28 weeks pregnant, beyond the 20-week limit then set by Nebraska law.

Her mother, Jessica Burgess, 42, faces up to five years in prison for helping her.

Nebraska now bans abortion at 12 weeks.

Police opened the investigation into the mother and daughter in June 2022, before the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion and left it to states to determine whether or how to allow the procedure.

At the time, both mother and daughter, then 17, resided in Nebraska, where abortions had been banned at 20 weeks from conception. Earlier this year, Nebraska lawmakers passed an abortion ban at 12 weeks after conception.

According to court documents, Celeste Burgess was in her third trimester of pregnancy when she consumed the abortion pills, making the procedure illegal as per Nebraska law.

When initially confronted by police, the teen allegedly told authorities that she had delivered a stillborn foetus. But, according to court documents, she and her mother had discussed in Facebook messages how to obtain the abortion pills and “burn the evidence”.

In May, Burgess pleaded guilty to a felony charge of removing or concealing human skeletal remains. Two other misdemeanour charges against her – concealing the death of another person and false reporting – were dropped. In addition to serving three months in jail, she faces two years of probation.

Her mother has pleaded guilty to providing an illegal abortion, making false statements to authorities and tampering with human skeletal remains. Her sentencing begins in September.

The case has been closely watched by abortion advocates as a slew of states move to restrict abortion access after the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling.

Late-term abortions are uncommon. Before the end of Roe v Wade, the majority of abortions happened before the 13th week of pregnancy, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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