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Nebraska Teen Charged for Having Illegal Abortion after Facebook Surrenders DMs to Police


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A teenager in Nebraska was recently charged for having an illegal abortion after Facebook reportedly turned over direct messages between her and her mother to the police.

According to The Christian Post, court documents revealed that Facebook handed over the chats between 18-year-old Celeste Burgess and her mother, 41-year-old Jessica Burgess, as part of a search warrant by Nebraska police. The investigation had been ongoing since April, before the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in June, which returned the abortion issue to the states.

In Nebraska, abortion is banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Celeste, who claimed she had a miscarriage at 23 weeks of gestation, was reportedly given abortion pills by her mother in March. According to a sworn affidavit from Detective Ben McBride of the Norfolk Police Investigations Unit, a woman who claimed to be Celeste’s friend said the teen took the first pill in April.

McBride then applied for a warrant in June and seized six smartphones and seven laptops. Additionally, Facebook was ordered to turn over messages between the mother and daughter.

In the messages, Jessica referred to “What I ordered last month” and instructed Celeste to take two pills every 24 hours.

In July, both the mother and daughter were charged “with allegedly removing, concealing, or abandoning a dead human body” and concealing the death of another person.

The mother was also charged with “performing or attempting an abortion on a pregnancy at more than 20 weeks and performing an abortion as a non-licensed doctor.”

According to The Norfolk Daily News, the Madison County Attorney’s Office alleges that the mother and daughter wanted to travel to a rural location to bury the fetal remains. Additionally, they allegedly buried the body three times and tried to burn it after the second excavation.

Both of the Burgesses have pled not guilty to the charges and are expected to appear in pre-trial hearings in the upcoming weeks. Celeste, whose pre-trial hearing will occur later this month, faces up to four years in prison. Meanwhile, Jessica, who will have her pre-trial hearing on September 2, faces up to 8 years in prison.

A third individual, Tanner Barnhill, pleaded no contest to concealing a death for providing transportation to the Burgesses to the burial sites. He is expected to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 3 months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

After the story broke, Facebook’s parent company Meta explained to media outlets in a statement that the warrants they received from Nebraska police lacked any mention of abortion.

“Nothing in the valid warrants we received from local law enforcement in early June, prior to the Supreme Court decision, mentioned abortion,” the company said.

“The warrants concerned charges related to a criminal investigation, and court documents indicate that police at the time were investigating the case of a stillborn baby who was burned and buried, not a decision to have an abortion.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Douglas Sacha

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.

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