(NewsNation) — A Nebraska woman who gave her teen daughter abortion pills was sentenced to two years in prison, according to multiple media reports.
Jessica Burgess, 42, of Norfolk, pleaded guilty last Friday in a plea agreement where she admitted to providing an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, false reporting and tampering with human skeletal remains, the Associated Press reported. Other charges of concealing the death of another person and abortion by someone other than a licensed physician were dismissed.
This is the first time Madison County Attorney Joe Smith says he’s charged anyone with illegally performing an abortion after 20 weeks. This follows Republican Gov. Jim Pillen’s signing of a 12-week abortion ban in May.
Madison County court records show Burgess ordered the abortion pills her daughter used on the internet. Facebook messages that were acquired by law enforcement using a search warrant detailed the two’s plans to terminate the pregnancy and destroy the evidence.
Norfolk Daily News reports Burgess will be eligible for release after a year if she exhibits good behavior in prison.
According to the newspaper, her daughter was given 90 days in jail and 24 months of probation for prohibited acts with human skeletal remains. The daughter had previously said she had been in an abusive relationship, the Norfolk Daily News wrote, and did not want to share a child with the man who impregnated her.
Nonprofit news organization The Appeal writes that Nebraska does not allow people to obtain abortion pills through telehealth, so getting them would have required Burgess’ teen daughter to travel to one of three abortion clinics. Norfolk is about 110 miles away from the nearest one.
Experts told The Appeal that Nebraska’s rules force people like Burgess’ daughter into these situations.
Farah Diaz-Tello, senior counsel and legal director for the nonprofit If/When/How, said in The Appeal that placing limits on when people can seek abortions causes people to be in a position where they’re chasing deadlines and moving place to place so that the “network of care that existed is frayed beyond all belief.”
Emma Roth, senior staff attorney at Pregnancy Justice, said the prosecutor’s whole case was about “shaming somebody for being a young teenager and having an abortion later on in pregnancy.”
“These prosecutions create a culture of fear,” Roth said.
Smith, meanwhile, was quoted by the Norfolk Daily News as telling the judge that while people have tried to frame Burgess’ case as one centered on abortion rights, it is instead about a violation of the law.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.