A Nebraska teenager is facing criminal charges alleging she aborted a fetus in violation of state law, after authorities obtained her Facebook messages using a search warrant. Seventeen-year-old Celeste Burgess, who is being tried as an adult along with her mother Jessica Burgess, is awaiting trial in Madison County District Court on charges that they broke a Nebraska law banning abortions after 20 weeks.
This marks one of the first instances of a person’s Facebook activity being used to incriminate her in a state where abortion access is restricted — a scenario that has remained largely hypothetical in the weeks following the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Nebraska currently outlaws abortions beyond 20 weeks. On Monday, Republican lawmakers in the state failed to secure enough votes to decrease that window to 12 weeks.
The Lincoln Journal-Star reports:
In early June, the two women were each charged with removing, concealing or abandoning a dead human body, a felony, and a pair of misdemeanors: concealing the death of another person; and false reporting. But the investigation wasn’t over.
A week after the two were charged, the detective served a search warrant on Facebook, to get access to their accounts. He found messages between them suggesting Jessica Burgess had obtained abortion pills for her daughter, and gave her instructions on how to take them.
So this is the world the radical right brought us? Neighbors and friends spying on each other. Cops investigating miscarriages. Facebook handing over our data.
Your freedom shouldn’t depend on where you live. https://t.co/9BjLeZLMPb
— Fatima Goss Graves (@FGossGraves) August 9, 2022
A Nebraska teenager is facing criminal charges alleging she aborted a fetus in violation of state law, after authorities obtained her Facebook messages using a search warrant. via @Forbes https://t.co/IIaZ3yQpnX
— Justia.com (@justiacom) August 9, 2022
Shocking story by @SarahNEmerson and @ebakerwhite about how Nebraska authorities used a girl’s Facebook DMs with her mother to criminally charge both after the girl ended her pregnancy: https://t.co/djatLkdR9m
— ◥◤Kriston Capps 2099 (@kristoncapps) August 9, 2022