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By Randy Sly

6/15/2010 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

CoS leaders again emphatically deny participation

One year after their multi-part series exposing the dangers found within the cult of Scientology, the St. Petersburg Times has published a two-part series on forced abortions within their Sea Organization, a similar but more in-depth report to the one we filed last fall on Catholic Online. The Times reports that forced abortions were not isolated instances but a general rule of thumb for those in the Sea Organization.

Catholic Online is continuing to follow this story and other developments concerning Scientology.

Catholic Online is continuing to follow this story and other developments concerning Scientology.

Highlights

By Randy Sly

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/15/2010 (5 years ago)

Published in U.S.


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In 1975, the St. Petersburg Times began covering the activities and accusations against Scientology, due to their proximity to the spiritual headquarters of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater, Florida.

This past Sunday and Monday the Times published a two-part series on forced abortions in the Sea Organization of Scientology, which included video testimony. Catholic Online reported on these very disturbing allegations last fall in the article "Scientology Religious 'Order' called 'Sea Orgs' Forced Abortions on Members."

Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs, the Time's writers who presented the six-part series last year, have again put together a report that indicates abortion, along with additional physical and mental abuse; have been used over a long period of time.

As with all articles in the past, Scientology spokesperson Tommy Davis wrote a six-page letter to the Times in which they denied any and all involvement. Davis states, "There is no truth to the allegation that any of these people were forced to have abortions at any time or were made to make these decisions against their own volition. In fact, it is impossible to "force" someone to do what is alleged."

On Sunday, the story, "No Children Allowed" was published. In this account, the Times reports that forced abortions were not isolated instances but a general rule of thumb for those in the Sea Organization (or Sea Org) which is described as an "order" within Scientology of highly committed followers.

According to Tobin and Childs, "More than a dozen women said the culture in the Sea Org pushed them or women they knew to have abortions, in many cases, abortions they did not want.

"Some said colleagues and supervisors pressured them to abort their pregnancies and remain productive workers without the distraction of raising children," the article went on to say. "Terminating a pregnancy and staying on the job affirmed one's commitment to the all-important work of saving the planet."

Among the individuals spotlighted in the first day's article were:


On Monday, the Times followed up with an article entitled, "She fought Scientology for the child they wanted to abort," telling the story of Natalie Hagemo, a 19 year-old Sea Org member who had become pregnant and, along with her husband, withstood the pressure of the leadership to have an abortion. She gave birth to a daughter, Shelby.

Forced to leave Sea Org, they remained active as members and raised their daughter in Scientology. After a recruiter signed Shelby as a member of Sea Org with a billion-year contract at age 15, her mother allowed her to go. A week or so later, she called home and wanted to be released.

Hagemo appealed to her local group but was met with an angry response. When she told them that Shelby was a minor and still legally under her authority, they told her they didn't have to follow the laws of the non-Scientology world.

Now frantic that she may not be able to get her daughter back, Hagemo flew to Los Angeles. After two weeks of appeals, Shelby was finally released.

Davis told the Times that Hagemo was "never pressured to have an abortion," the Sea Org is not hostile to pregnant women and, when Shelby asked to leave, the church helped her "route out.'' 

Catholic Online is continuing to follow this story and other developments concerning Scientology.

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Having written more than a dozen articles on Scientology, Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org/). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

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