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Nebraska Mother Who Assisted Illegal Abortion of Her Grandchild Gets Prison

Justice is served, in this case of a Nebraska mother who facilitated the abortion of her then-teenage daughter who was in her third trimester. My colleague Jim Thompson succinctly explained,

Celeste Burgess’ baby was well into the third trimester. At that stage, the baby is in a rhythm ready for life in the world. The heart is beating, the baby is waking and sleeping, opening her eyes and mouth, and sucking her thumbs. The organs are formed. At 30 weeks, the baby is, by any standard, completely viable.

But after 30 weeks, Celeste Burgess (now 19) and her mother Jessica decided that they didn’t want the baby. Forty-one-year-old Jessica Burgess ordered and purchase abortion pills online and gave them to her daughter. That type of medication is only approved by the FDA for up to 10 weeks. According to court records, the baby Celeste was carrying was in its 30th week. The baby died in the womb and was stillborn in the shower. The dead baby was another problem for the Burgesses. What to do with the body? They formed a plan with a man named Tanner Barnhill, who’s 22 years old. Like mafia hitmen, they decided to burn the body and bury the baby’s corpse in a backyard.

How many women in America alone have been patiently waiting to adopt a baby? This child was viable and would have been quickly adopted had the Burgesses made a different choice. The child was not allowed to live, and her would-be grandmother has been sentenced to prison.

Inside the Madison County district courtroom on Friday, Jessica Burgess wept as she was escorted out of the courtroom shortly after being sentenced to prison for three crimes connected to her role in her daughter’s illegal abortion and the burial of the remains that followed.

The 42-year-old Norfolk woman was sentenced by District Judge Mark Johnson to 2 years in prison for prohibited acts with human skeletal remains, abortion at 20 weeks past gestation and false reporting. She faced up to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty in July.

She received a two-year sentence. The baby got a death sentence.

Johnson ordered Burgess to serve a year in prison on each charge, with the abortion sentence to run consecutive to the other two crimes. The skeletal remains and false reporting sentences will be served at the same time.

With good behavior in prison, Burgess will be eligible for release after serving a year.

The pair discussing how to dispose of the child on social media is a particular form of callousness.

Social media messages between the Burgesses obtained by McBride through a search warrant show that the two-pill order arrived on April 20, 2022. Jessica then instructed Celeste through messages to take one pill designed to stop hormone functions, wait 24 hours, then take the other pill that would complete the termination of the pregnancy.

Celeste told police that she had a miscarriage in the shower on April 22, 2022. McBride said further review of her messages showed that she told friends in a group chat that “they were going to bury the baby’s body.”

“Celeste then made a comment along the lines of, ‘We burn the evidence when it comes out,’ and (Jessica) said, ‘Yes,’ ” McBride testified last year.

The Burgesses then enacted their plan to bury the remains at a rural location north of Norfolk. The mother and daughter buried the remains three different times and also attempted to burn the remains after the second exhumation.

This is not a poor and misbegotten teenager forced to take matters into her own hands, or a distraught mother without options. This was willful human sacrifice on both their parts. The prosecuting attorney recognized the heinous nature of this crime and urged that Jessica Burgess not be released on probation, but get an actual sentence.

Smith told the judge that people have tried to frame Burgess’ case as one centered on abortion rights. Instead, he said, her case was about violation of the law.

She had no interest in telling the police the truth during the investigation, Smith said, and her lying continued during her pre-sentence investigation interview with a probation officer.

Jessica said during her PSI interview that she didn’t recall anything that happened and denied having any involvement in the crimes she pleaded guilty to.

And if Jessica showed no interest in providing a probation officer with the truth, Smith said the probation office would not be able to trust her in the future if she was spared incarceration.

Nebraska has had laws in place for decades allowing women to have abortions performed by medical professionals at certain stages of gestation — laws that Jessica violated, the county attorney said.

Judge Johnson also reflected on the callousness of the act when rendering the sentence.

I shudder to think, Ms. Burgess, that you have such disrespect for a — call it a human fetus, call it a stillborn child — that you would treat it like yesterday’s trash and not give it some respect in its treatment and disposal. Our society expects more; it demands more.

You were the adult throughout this entire time, and you failed miserably in being the adult advisor to your child…

  • Anna says:

    Did I miss the part where the daughter was charged? Please tell me she was charged!

    • T says:

      I was wondering the same thing and I read the article again and I didn’t see anything. Where is the daughter or the young man who helped out we’re given any charges or on probation for anything

  • T says:

    I was wondering and a comment was made ….what happen with the daughter?

    So I decided to look it up. The daughter made a plea deal pleading guilty and received a 90 day jail sentence. In addition to the jail term, Burgess was sentenced to serve two years of probation.

    Imagine that!!

  • Badger says:

    Give her the death sentence. She did that to a baby and she deserves it.

  • TD says:

    The woman and her daughter are nothing but disgusting rotten people and they don’t deserve to live in normal society, They both should have gotten prison sentences not for just two years but way more, This abortion thing is a plague on human society that any normal person should not even think about unless it is an absolute medical emergency, Sick of hearing about it

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