A Nebraska woman has pleaded guilty to burning and concealing a fetus after taking medication to end her pregnancy, as prosecutors continue a criminal case accusing her mother of illegally assisting in the abortion.
Celeste Burgess gave birth to the stillborn fetus when she was 17 years old and approximately 29 weeks and five days pregnant. Despite her age, prosecutors charged her as an adult. Now 18, Burgess has pleaded guilty to felony concealment or abandonment of a body, and prosecutors have dropped two lesser charges. The fetus was found buried in a field north of Norfolk, Nebraska.
For his part, Jessica Burgess, Celeste’s 42-year-old mother, is accused of illegally assisting in an abortion last spring. The prosecutor involved said he had never before filed charges for violating Nebraska’s 20-week limit on abortion, set in 2010. Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signed legislation Monday banning abortions at 12 weeks, the which came into effect immediately.
The case against mother and daughter is based, in part, on in the Facebook messages they exchanged about their plan to obtain the drug and then burn the fetus. Jessica Burgess has pleaded not guilty and is expected to return to court on July 7 for a pretrial hearing. Her lawyer has not responded to messages so far.
According to court documents, in the messages between mother and daughter, Celeste expressed her impatience to “get the ‘thing’ out of her body” and mentioned that she would finally be able to wear jeans. For her part, Jessica informed her daughter that she obtained the pills and gave her instructions on how to terminate the pregnancy. Last summer, a man pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for helping to bury the fetus.