Jessica Burgess is 41 years old and her daughter Celeste is 18. Both have been charged with illegal abortion by the Madison County (Nebraska, USA) court. Celeste, performed when she was 17 years old and about 23 weeks gestation if it is prohibited in that state beyond 20 weeks to bury the fetus. The investigation covers two pages of a conversation between the two on April 20 on Facebook Messenger about buying and using these pills. The case, complicated by circumstances, has exacerbated the debate that began months ago — even before the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion protections — about how women’s personal information may pose a danger to them on the network, as it comes to reproductive rights.
Investigations into that case began in April after another woman, an alleged girlfriend of Celeste, told police she saw her take the first pill in April, according to an affidavit from Detective Ben McBride of Norfolk Police collects EFE. From there, the investigation began.
In early June, both were charged with a serious crime of stealing, concealing or leaving a body; and two minors, concealing the death of another person and false accusation. Since April 15, investigators have been requesting the mother’s personal data: photos, audio and videos, private messages and other account information. They wanted to know if he had committed other crimes.
A search warrant was therefore issued and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, searched, collected and delivered the messages. “One pill slows down the hormones and then you have to wait 24 hours to take the second,” Burgess tells her daughter, who lets her know she’s received the order they placed a month ago. “Remember, once it’s all out, we’ll burn the evidence,” Celeste replies.
It was these private conversations that served as the basis for adding illegal abortion charges against Burgess and running the case. The two were charged in July and pleaded not guilty; Celeste, who is already 18, is being prosecuted as an adult at the request of the prosecutor.
The Facebook Statement
On Tuesday, Facebook released a statement arguing that “much of the reporting of Meta’s role in a criminal case against a mother and her daughter in Nebraska is completely untrue” and that it “wanted to take the opportunity to let things go.”
“We received valid court orders from local police on June 7 before the Supreme Court decision. Abortion was not mentioned at all in the orders. Court documents show police were investigating the alleged illegal cremation and burial of a stillborn baby at the time. The orders were accompanied by confidentiality orders that prevented us from sharing information about them. The orders have now been lifted,” they explain in the statement, which also Meta spokesman Andy Stone shared this in a couple of tweets.
When the case became known, debates and protests broke out that spread across social networks. The hashtag for a few hours Delete Facebook [Borra Facebook] it has gone viral. One of these publications is that of Olivia Juliannaan activist and member of Gen-Z for Change, an NGO led by youth to bring about change in this generation.
“A lot of people miss the point here. Regardless of what that news said, they thought she was going to have an abortion. They cited Facebook, which cooperated without resistance, for more information. This precedent is dangerous. It puts people at risk.” Julianna tweeted in a thread Tuesday nightwhich was captioned with a message that said: “Every woman should delete Facebook immediately. #Facebook delete [borrar Facebook]“.
This issue, the protection of women’s online privacy related to reproductive rights, has been the subject of debate in the United States for months. Almost a year ago, in September 2021, Texas Right to Life, the largest ultraconservative organization in the Southern state, opened a website where anyone believed to have been linked to an abortion can be anonymously reported.
And it is not just the moment when the voluntary abortion occurs, but much earlier. When the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade knocked down [el precedente que garantizaba el aborto en todo el país]American women began to fear the data they left behind in menstrual monitoring applications.
HIPAA, the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mandates professional secrecy in abortion counseling. A duty that also applies to health insurance. However, neither the companies that store data nor the applications are subject to it. But apps and data titans don’t have the same obligation. So all of this information that women put in there can become evidence of a crime, abortion, depending on each state’s legislation.