A mother and teenage daughter are now being investigated and possibly facing criminal charges after Facebook messenger texts between the two revealed that the young girl, Celeste Burgess, illegally aborted her fetus and broke Nebraska law. While the topic of abortion laws has been especially prevalent since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in late June, this instance actually occurred in April. However, the state of Nebraska had abortion restrictions in place previously that outlawed “abortions 20 weeks post-fertilization unless the mother’s life is in danger,” which is a rule that Burgess broke.
According to CBS News, mother Jessica Burgess “allegedly helped her daughter abort, burn and bury her fetus,” which in the Conservative state of Nebraska is considered “murder,” with both women being tried in court on account of “performing an illegal abortion and concealing a dead body.” The authorities grew interested in the case when Celeste Burgess previously claimed that she “miscarried in the shower” at 23 weeks pregnant, forcing the police to look closer into the legitimacy of her story. The tipping point that confirmed suspicions of Burgess’s dishonesty is when she had to “scroll through her messages on her Facebook Messenger account” to pinpoint the date of her miscarriage, according to CNN, leading the officers to request an online search warrant for her Facebook messages.
The personal messages between the mother and daughter revealed that rather than having a miscarriage, Celeste took abortion medication at 28 weeks pregnant, which marks the beginning of the third trimester of gestational development. While the police legally obtained a search warrant to view this private exchange between Celeste and Jessica, it has now been made known that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, was not aware that the search warrant requested had anything to do with abortion. In fact, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg shared with Forbes that efforts are being made “to expand encryption across the platform [that] will keep people safe.” Additionally, Meta is one of the largest corporations that has vocalized its disapproval of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and ensured that employees who need to travel to seek an abortion will be reimbursed for their time off of work.
People remain skeptical about the ethics of this Facebook messages investigation, however, some note that Facebook is still profiting off of anti-abortion advertisements on its website, and it is difficult to trust the security of users’ private information and messages after following this Nebraska case. In a world where you can access all of your personal information at the touch of a button, be aware that what may seem private is easily accessible to others too. 17-year-old Celeste Burgess is being tried as an adult in the court of law with her Facebook messages being used as evidence against her, and one can only hope that she is not seriously punished for performing an action to try to preserve her own life and wellbeing.