A Nebraska woman is facing felony charges for allegedly performing an illegal, late-term abortion that killed her unborn grandchild and put her pregnant daughter’s life in danger.
CBS 14 reports Jessica Burgess, 41, of Norfolk, Nebraska, allegedly obtained abortion pills for her 17-year-old daughter in mid-April and gave her instructions about how to take them. Later, police said she helped to burn and bury the aborted baby’s body.
In the case of Burgess’s daughter, Celeste, now 18, medical records obtained by police indicate that she was almost six months pregnant when she allegedly took the abortion pills that killed her unborn baby, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Abortions are legal for any reason up to 20 weeks in Nebraska, and pro-life laws exempt pregnant mothers from punishment. However, pro-life laws do allow abortionists and untrained individuals to be prosecuted for killing unborn babies and, especially in the case of untrained individuals, putting the pregnant mother’s life in danger.
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Late-term abortions are more risky for the mother as well, and some states that allow late-term abortions require that they be done by a licensed doctor in a hospital because the risks are so high.
According to CBS, Jessica Burgess’s charges in Madison County District Court include performing or attempting an abortion at greater than 20 weeks, performing an abortion when not a licensed doctor, removing/concealing/abandoning a dead human body, concealing the death of another person and false reporting.
Celeste Burgess also was charged with removing/concealing/abandoning a dead human body, concealing the death of another person and false reporting, according to the report. Both mother and daughter recently pleaded not guilty.
A third individual, Tanner Barnhill, 22, admitted that he helped the Burgesses bury the baby’s body, according to police. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of attempting to concealing the death of another person, the report states.
Police said Barnhill told them that the Burgesses tried to burn the baby’s body before they buried it. When police exhumed the body, they said they noticed burn marks, or “thermal wounds,” the Post-Dispatch reports.
Initially, police said Jessica Burgess told police that her daughter had gone into premature labor and gave birth to a stillborn baby. However, police said they later found records online of a conversation between the mother and daughter about abortion drugs that occurred a few days before Celeste gave birth, according to the report.
“(Celeste Burgess) talks about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body and reaffirms with (Jessica Burgess) that they will burn the evidence afterwards,” according to court records of the police investigation.
Police said medical records indicate that Celeste Burgess was nearly six months pregnant, at least 23 weeks, and she was due July 3. That means her unborn baby was viable and could have survived outside the womb.
It is not clear from reports what abortion drugs Jessica Burgess allegedly obtained for her daughter, but the most common, mifepristone and misoprostol, are not recommended after the first 10 weeks of pregnancy – further suggesting the woman allegedly put her daughter’s life at risk as well as her unborn grandchild’s.
Abortion activists claim stories like these prove that the pro-life movement wants to punish mothers for aborting their unborn babies, but the truth is that pro-life laws intend to keep both mothers and babies safe from abortion. Notably, Celeste Burgess is not facing abortion charges, only her mother.
Recently, pro-life leaders representing 70 organizations published an open letter opposing laws that punish mothers for abortions. The pro-life movement supports laws that prosecute abortionists and those who help them abort unborn babies.