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Woman gets jail term for illegally signing abortion papers
Cindi C. Cook, a 44-year-old resident of Flowery Branch, pleaded guilty to violating the state’s Parental Notification Act and interfering with the custody of a minor in a DeKalb County court last week.
A Hall County woman is spending a year in jail after she illegally gave written permission for her son’s 16-year-old girlfriend to have an abortion at a Chamblee clinic.

Cindi C. Cook, a 44-year-old resident of Flowery Branch, pleaded guilty to violating the state’s Parental Notification Act and interfering with the custody of a minor in a DeKalb County court last week.

She is currently serving the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor — one year — in the DeKalb County jail for forging a consent waiver with the signature of her son’s 16-year-old girlfriend’s mother when the girl had an abortion at Northside Women’s Clinic in Chamblee last year.

After the sentencing, the girl’s parents, also Hall County residents, released a statement through their attorney that the outcome of Cook’s trial helped with their "healing process."

"The actions of both Cindi Cook and the Northside Women’s Clinic have affected our daughter’s life with much pain this past year because of the loss of her baby. It was a sense of helplessness," the statement read. "As for us, they took away our right to be there and help our daughter during a time when she needed us most."

Court records showed Cook had pressured the girl to have the abortion and paid for the procedure on May 12, 2007. One month later, the girl told her parents about the abortion, and her parents notified police.

According to court documents provided by the DeKalb County Solicitor General’s office, Cook’s son and his girlfriend found out she was pregnant in May 2007.

Cook told her son’s girlfriend not to tell her parents about the pregnancy and "that she would take care of everything and set up the abortion," according to the documents. Both Cook’s son and his girlfriend were 16 at the time.

Georgia law requires that parents are notified when girls younger than 18 have an abortion, but Cook chose Northside Women’s Clinic, because it did not require a parent to be present when the minor had the procedure.

According to the clinic’s Web site, unmarried women younger than 18 must bring a note, signed and dated by a parent or guardian, that shows the parent is aware of the abortion.

"The note becomes a permanent part of your medical record and is kept confidential," the Web site states. "To protect confidentiality, no home telephone calls are made."

The DeKalb Solicitor-General’s office is currently investigating if the clinic was also at fault, but the attorney for the girl’s family said he believed Northside Women’s Clinic also violated state parental notification laws because it did not speak with the girl’s parents 24 hours before the abortion.

"The notification statute puts the burden on the adults when there’s a minor involved —i.e. the clinic and the parents — not on the kids," said Fenn Little, the attorney representing the girl’s family. "The clinic, from the evidence I have, did not abide by the statute."

"The clinic did nothing to notify anybody ... which is what the statute requires."

Little says that, more than a year after the abortion, the girl is still dealing with the emotions of being "coerced" into aborting her pregnancy.

"She feels like, basically, her child was killed," Little said. "She’s got issues about what her responsibility was. She’s also got that she was forced into this, and that takes some time to get through."

Little, who watched the trial but did not take part in it, said testimonies confirmed that Cook pressured the girl into having the abortion.

"She was not allowed to talk to her parents — to discuss it with anybody — and you know, she was only a minor at the time. She’s got this adult person putting this pressure on her talking about how ... the boy’s never going to be able to go to college. ... It’s very persuasive, heavy-duty peer pressure," Little said.

The girl’s family is considering filing a lawsuit against Cook and the clinic, Little said.

"They want to make sure that it doesn’t happen to anybody else," Little said. "... Because it has really harmed this child."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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