June 15, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Church of Scientology, well known as the practiced religion of celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is facing renewed allegations that the organization has psychologically coerced members into having abortions.
"They put you in this position where you're weighing the lives of all these people you're supposed to be saving against this one little tiny speck of nuisance that's growing inside of you," one former member told the St. Petersburg Times.
"And [they] make it seem so unimportant. So when you try to look at that bigger picture, the choice seems obvious."
The Times reported on Sunday that their investigation uncovered over a dozen women who, in the words of the newspaper, “said the culture in the Sea Org pushed them or women they knew to have abortions, in many cases, abortions they did not want.”
The elite Sea Org is composed of the most devoted Scientologists; there are about 6 thousand Sea Org members worldwide. Members receive very little rest, wear uniforms, march, salute, and act in other ways as if it were a military organization. Notably, members are not allowed to have children.
As the Times reports, members of this organization typically join the high pressure, controlling environment when very young.
Laura Diekman joined at the age of 12, and married another scientologist when she was 16. She soon became pregnant.
"I was pounded for two days by the top person in my organization ... about how the baby wasn't a baby yet, it was just tissue and it wouldn't matter if I aborted the baby," she said. Eventually she succumbed to the pressure.
She recounted how, after going in for the procedure, the last thought she had before going under the anesthesia was that she did not want the abortion.
"You know every day I see my kids and they're such a joy in my life, but you always think what would have been. I wanted that baby with my husband," she said.
Claire Hadley shared a similar story about how she was made to have two abortions.
"If I had said, 'I'm not going to do this,' I would have been separated from my husband," she said about the first abortion. "So, I did not have a choice."
She was forced to have the second abortion after she discovered, shortly after moving to work apart from her husband, that she was already pregnant. The organization allegedly did not permit her to call her husband until she had already aborted the child.
"This is a subject to me that, it’s just criminal to make someone go through with that. And my lawsuit specifically asks for an injunction that makes it illegal for them to require female employees to go through with abortions."
Claire and Marc Headley are suing the Church of Scientology in separate actions. Marc alleges that he was the victim of unfair business practices and forced labor during his fifteen years in Sea Org; Claire states that the church forced her to have two abortions and that working conditions at the church's base constituted human trafficking.
Responding to the Times' interviews, Tommy Davis of the Church of Scientology said that intrinsic to Scientology "is the deepest respect for the family and for family life."
He continued to claim that the Church of Scientology did not have a position on abortion and does not advocate it. "At no time has any Church staff member been 'forced' to obtain an abortion," he claimed.
Although having children is forbidden within the Sea Org, he stated, if someone wished to leave the Sea Org, he said they could easily do so.
He accused the Times of "blind bias" for reporting "malicious allegations" contrary to the truth. He also provided the sworn statements of many former members of Sea Org who had left due to pregnancy, many of whom testified to the care and benevolence of members of Sea Org and stated that Sea Org officials never pressured them into an abortion.