Legal Sentencing Fuels Debate On Abortion And Medical Responsibility

A Nebraska woman provided abortion pills to her 17-year-old daughter obtained online and later disposed of the fetus by burning and burying it in her backyard, all while deceiving investigators. Jessica Burgess, 42, faced legal consequences as a state judge sentenced her to two years in prison.

She was convicted of tampering with human remains, false reporting, and providing an abortion after at least 20 weeks of gestation. Reports indicate this is illegal in Nebraska. Burgess’s actions were deemed reckless, cruel, and illegal.

Administering prescription medication without proper authorization is against the law. Furthermore, inducing an abortion beyond 20 weeks carries significant risks, including possible life-threatening complications. She was halfway through the pregnancy and could likely feel the baby kicking at that point.

The drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, typically used for terminating pregnancies, are recommended within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy— ideally the first four weeks, and must be administered under medical supervision.

It’s worth noting that abortion pills were legally obtainable in Nebraska at the time, adding complexity to Burgess’s actions. The judge also highlighted the heartless disposal of the fetus as an additional factor justifying Burgess’s serious sentencing.

Madison County District Judge Mark Johnson said, “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.”

Burgess’s attorney, Brad Ewalt of Norfolk, sought probation but the judge denied the request. The judge pointed out that Burgess knowingly violated the state’s abortion law and lied to investigators. She also resorted to “extraordinary means” to obtain the pills online instead of through a Nebraska medical provider.

The daughter’s involvement in the illegal abortion was highlighted. The daughter was told how to take the pills from her mother and reportedly expressed her excitement on social media. The involvement of a 22-year-old man who provided transportation for the Burgesses was also noted.

He received a nine-month probation sentence after pleading no contest to attempted concealing a death. Madison County Attorney Joe Smith emphasized the importance of adhering to Nebraska’s licensing requirements for medical professionals in the interest of public safety.

Despite attempts by Nebraska Democrats to frame the case as a reflection of potential repercussions under proposed Republican abortion legislation, the core issue was the violation of multiple laws and community decency standards.

In the aftermath of this distressing incident, society should reflect on the sanctity of life and the consequences of actions that disregard it. We must acknowledge the need for responsible decision-making, adherence to laws, and prioritizing human life.