ALBUQUERQUE, July 19, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Although churches covet free media coverage, the Church of Scientology would prefer to avoid the spotlight the news media have turned upon ex-members who say the celebrity church coerces women to have abortions.
In the latest revelation, Laura Ann DeCrescenzo has sued the church she joined at age nine, saying she has suffered extreme emotional distress as a result of her compulsory abortion.
DeCrescenzo joined the Church of Scientology as an employee at age nine. In 1991 at the age of 12, she joined the Sea Organization (or “Sea Org”), a religious order within Scientology known for its rigor. At age 16, she got married and became pregnant a year later.
The group has “an internal policy of of forcing and coercing their female employees, including Plaintiff, to have abortions, so as to maximize the workload from female employees and to avoid child care issues,” according to her lawsuit.
She claims members of the church threatened that she would lose her job, her housing, and never see her husband again – and she would be smacked with a burdensome debt for “job training.”
The legal complaint states that, because of her forced abortion, DeCrescenzo “suffers from severe emotional distress, including anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, shame, depression, feelings of powerlessness, and anguish.”
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During her years in Sea Org, “co-workers regularly were ordered by Defendants to have abortions,” which she describes as “standard protocol.”
Her story underscores those of numerous other Scientologists and Sea Org members, who say the religion founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard manipulated or controlled them into terminating their unborn children.
Astra Woodcraft, who promised to serve Sea Org for a billion years at age 14, said, “You were just expected to have an abortion.” Woodcraft added, “They tried to coerce you.”
In 2010, the St. Petersburg Times revealed more than a dozen Scientologists who said they were forced into an abortion.
The divorce of Katie Holmes from Tom Cruise, the church’s most prominent member, threatened to air the church’s dirty laundry. A quick settlement avoided that possiblity.
Forced abortion is only one part of the religious refugees’ stories. DeCrescenzo is also suing for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She asserts that church authorities restricted her access to e-mail, telephone, mail, and her loved ones or the outside world as they kept her working everyday, sometimes 100 hours a week. When her grandfather died in 2001, she was given three hours to attend his funeral and return.
That year the church moved her to the Rehabilitation Project Force, which attempts to reclaim errant members in danger of straying.
She escaped only in 2004, after faking a suicide attempt, by drinking bleach and was told she owed a $120,000 “Freeloader Debt.”
She remained a loyal Scientologist for four more years, contributing $10,000 toward her “debt.”
Her path out came when she saw a website for ex-Scientologists run by Jenna Miscavige Hill.
DeCrescenzo’s legal brief can be seen here.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2009, is scheduled to be brought to trial on July 29 of next year.
Gary Moorehead describes how Scientology convinced women to abort.