CV NEWS FEED // A Nebraska woman was sentenced to 90 days in jail after she was convicted of illegally disposing of her aborted child’s remains.
Celeste Burgess, 19, used abortion pills to terminate her third-trimester pregnancy when she was 17 years old.
Police began investigating Burgess after hearing reports that a teenager gave birth to a stillborn baby and buried it.
Through an investigation and the use of private Facebook messages, detectives learned that Burgess had aborted her 30-week-old baby with the help of her mother. The two then buried the child, dug it up, and moved it twice. At one point, the two tried to burn the child’s body.
According to detectives, Celeste “talks about how she couldn’t wait to get that ‘thing’ out of her body” in Facebook messages.
Prosecutors charged Burgess with removing and concealing human remains. She was not charged with violating Nebraska’s abortion law.
Burgess’ mother, Jessica Burgess, purchased the abortion pills online, according to Facebook messages shared with the court.
During a court hearing this month, Jessica Burgess pleaded guilty to violating Nebraska’s abortion law, furnishing false information to a law enforcement officer, and removing or concealing human skeletal remains. She will be sentenced on September 22 and faces up to five years in prison.
At the time of the crime, Nebraska law protected unborn children from abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, though a law signed in May further protected them by setting the limit at 12 weeks. The FDA advises that abortion pills only be used in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Nebraska Right to Life, a pro-life advocacy group, praised the investigation. Executive Director Sandy Danek expressed gratitude for the prosecutors’ pursuit of the charges.
“Accountability should extend to providers that mail abortion pills to states that, like Nebraska, require in-person physician oversight of medication abortions,” said Danek in a statement to CatholicVote. “Since 2010, Nebraska has had protections for babies 20 weeks or more in utero.”
The ruling comes as states scrutinize the legality of abortion pills shipped from other states. A recent Washington Post, article highlighted how doctors from states with “shield laws” ship abortion drugs to conservative states, circumventing pro-life laws. The drugs they ship are predicted to cause 42,000 abortions by the end of the year.
“This child was almost 30 weeks in utero, a perfectly healthy baby who could have survived outside the womb,” said Danek. “Not only was the procedure inflicted on this child barbaric, but the handling of the body after death was a total disregard for the law and human decency.”
“We applaud the prosecutor who acted to find justice for this child’s death and the disregard the child’s mother and grandmother paid to proper burial practices,” she said.