A former Scientologist asserted in an interview for the A&E series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” this week that women who are part of the group’s elite Sea Organization are forced to obtain an abortion should they become pregnant—a charge that leaders in the so-called Church of Scientology deny.
“If a woman got pregnant, she would instantly be scheduled to go and get an abortion,” Claire Headley stated in the episode. “If she refused in any manner, she would be segregated, not allowed to speak with her husband, put under security watch, put on heavy manual labor and interrogated for her crimes…”
Remini’s co-host, Mike Rinder, agreed, remarking that it is considered a “mortal sin” to become pregnant while serving in the Sea Organization.
“If you were in the Sea Organization and you got pregnant, you were expected to have an abortion,” he said.
Headley expressed sorrow in recounting that she was forced into ending the life of her unborn child. After leaving Scientology in 2005, she and her husband had three children.
“I have three beautiful children who are my life, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with it (the abortion),” she said.
But representatives of the “Church of Scientology” released a statement denying the accusations, stating that they only advise couples to wait until they are out of the group to have children.
“While Sea Organization couples may marry, those desiring to have children do so outside the Sea Organization. The Church never advocates abortion to Church staff or to parishioners,” it said.
An attorney for the organization made similar statements earlier this year in a legal brief responding to a lawsuit from a California woman who says she suffers trauma after being forced to have an abortion.
“To be clear, defendants do not argue that a church may physically force a woman to have an abortion,” attorney Bert Deixler wrote. “But that is not the issue here. Under the First Amendment, churches may encourage a minister of a religious order to forego child rearing so she or he may continue a religious life. Courts may not interfere with those efforts.”
As previously reported, Laura Ann DeCrescenzo has been fighting for the past seven years to have her case heard by the courts and was granted her request in May. She says that by age twelve, she had moved out of her parents’ house and into the Church of Scientology’s “Pac Base” in Hollywood and signed a billion year contract with the Sea Organization.
When she became pregnant at 17, DeCrescenzo contends that she was forced to have an abortion and told that it was “only tissue.”
“Defendants forced Plaintiff to have an abortion by threatening Plaintiff with losing her job, housing, and losing her husband if she did not have an abortion,” her lawsuit reads.
DeCrescenzo says that as the result of the abortion, she “suffers from severe emotional stress, including anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, shame, depression, feelings of powerlessness and anguish.”
“I never agreed to have an abortion,” she told reporters. “Did I concede? Yes, I did. Does it kill me every day? Yes, it does.”