Nebraska mother pleads guilty to giving daughter abortion pills and helping bury fetus

MADISON, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska mother pleaded guilty Friday to giving her 17-year-old daughter pills for an illegal abortion last year and helping to burn and bury the fetus.

Under a plea agreement, Jessica Burgess, 42, of Norfolk, admitted to performing an abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation, misrepresentation and tampering with human skeletal remains. Charges of concealing another person’s death and of having an abortion by someone other than a licensed physician were dismissed.

Burgess was accused of helping her 17-year-old daughter Celeste Burgess terminate her pregnancy. Madison County District Court documents show she ordered abortion pills over the internet.

After the teenager aborted the 29-week-old fetus, the two burned the remains and buried them in a field north of Norfolk in northeastern Nebraska. Authorities later found the burned fetus.

Madison County District Attorney Joe Smith said it was the first time he had charged someone with illegally performing an abortion after 20 weeks, a restriction passed in 2010. In May, Republican Governor Jim Pillen signed a 12-week abortion ban.

Jessica Burgess is due to be sentenced on September 22. Two of the counts against her are felonies; one is a misdemeanor.

Celeste Burgess, now 18, was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty in May to removing, concealing or dumping a dead body. She is due to be sentenced on July 20. She faces up to two years in prison.

Via Facebook posts, the two discussed the termination of the pregnancy and plans to destroy the evidence. The messages, which law enforcement acquired using a search warrant, were detailed in court documents.

According to the documents, the girl spoke in the posts “about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body.” She also said “I’m finally going to be able to wear jeans.” In a message, Jessica Burgess told her daughter she got the pills and gave her instructions on how to terminate her pregnancy.

Last summer, a man did not contest a misdemeanor for helping women bury the fetus on his parents’ land. He got probation.

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