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Abortion Messages Turned Over to Cops in a case Against 17-year-old

At home abortion leaked via Facebook messages

Nebraska mother, Jessica Burgess (41) and her teenage daughter Celeste Burgess (17) face criminal charges after information about the teenager’s abortion was leaked by Facebook’s parent company Meta to the police through a search warrant.

The Norfolk Police Department received a tip claiming that Celeste miscarried and buried the fetus with her mother’s help. 

The police had search warrants to get their hands on her medical records, which proved that she was 23 weeks pregnant at the time. The mother had gotten abortion pills for her daughter. 

On top of that, Jessica was charged with two additional felonies: performing or attempting an abortion on pregnancy at more than 20 weeks and performing an abortion as a non-licensed doctor. Nebraska law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks.

Supposedly, when the police interviewed Celeste, she claimed she had unexpectedly birthed her stillborn baby in the shower. This prompted her to put the baby’s body in a bag and bury it with the help of a third party, an unidentified man who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour.

The police assumed that she had lied and that’s why they got the warrant for her Facebook messages, showing that her mother talked her through a self-induced abortion. In this case, Celeste is being tried as an adult. Both mother and daughter pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Roe V. Wade abortion protest

Roe V. Wade abortion protest © Alex Brandon

Facebook defended itself by stating that the warrants they got from the criminal investigation pertained to the case of a stillborn baby being burned and buried, not a decision to have an abortion. 

Ironic, given how earlier this year, Meta announced it would offer reimbursements to employees who had to travel out of state to seek reproductive care after the Roe v. Wade turnover.

This case is notorious because it is the first known instance of a person’s Facebook messages being used as proof to incriminate them in a state where abortion is restricted. 

Others mentioned how it’s time to start using Signal with timed messages and raised concerns on the usage of period trackers as their data could be requested as well. 

Social media users have reacted with horror at the situation, mentioning how technically nobody is safe now and everyone’s privacy is at risk. Two women might lose their freedom due to the conflict regarding reproductive rights and an invasion of privacy.

There’s an emphasis that communication needs to be end-to-end encrypted, and the end user should also be using Signal or end-to-end encryption software.


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