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HOW SCIENTOLOGY COERCED A CHILD TO HAVE AN ABORTION: THE LAURA DECRESCENZO FILES

Laura, about 14, in uniform

Laura, about 14, in uniform

 
In February 1996, Laura, 17, learned at a local clinic that she was pregnant. She caught a ride back to the Hollywood Guaranty Building on Hollywood Boulevard at Ivar Avenue where she worked. When she got there, she immediately called her husband, Jesse DeCrescenzo, who was over at Scientology’s big blue Los Angeles headquarters, the former Cedars of Lebanon hospital on Fountain Avenue. After talking to him, she then went to her commanding officer. According to a deposition Laura gave in the lawsuit and portions of which were filed by her attorney this week, she was surprised by the first thing that her CO told her…

 
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After talking to her CO, a conference call was set up with Jesse and his CO, a woman named Chris, who also immediately began talking to Laura about the “greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics” — Scientology’s concept of acting for the group’s goals, and not for individual achievement. It infuriated her.

“I got so livid that I physically picked up the phone and hung it up because I was not interested in hearing such bullshit,” Laura testified.

In 2010, Scientology’s then-spokesman Tommy Davis acknowledged to the Tampa Bay Times that “having children was viewed as interfering with the productivity of Sea Org members.” But he denied that abortion was forced on Sea Org women who became pregnant. Numerous women have come forward saying that coerced abortions were policy, and were common.

After the conference call, Laura’s CO tried to calm her down. “And then she started going in on the point of — in terms of the Scientology jargon — of there’s no Thetan there yet, meaning the baby was just — she’s telling me the baby is just tissue at this point in time. It’s not like a big deal.”

That night, Laura saw Jesse and they talked about keeping the baby. But the next day, he seemed to be listening to his commanding officer again, and told her she should have an abortion.

If she insisted on having it, they both knew she’d be kicked out of the Sea Org — but he said he wanted to stay.

“So then it became not only would I have to go but there was the threat of having to go by myself. And here I am at 17 going to go out with no education, no high school diploma other than an equivalency certificate, no real schooling. I’m going to go out and have a baby by myself? I couldn’t do that anymore. So then it became like I didn’t have a choice anymore.”

She had the abortion, and has regretted it ever since. But in depositions, Scientology’s attorneys have tried in multiple ways to get Laura to say that having the abortion was her own choice, or was something more a result of her relationship with Jesse than the pressures of her supervisors in the Sea Org.

Q. Did anybody physically force you to go to a clinic and have an abortion?

MR. VAN SICKLE [Laura’s attorney]: You’re going to defend the case on this? Good luck. Object to the form of the question. You’re arguing and you’re demeaning the witness right now…

LAURA: No one physically forced me to have an abortion. I was so — you have to realize I grew up in Scientology, OK? I knew no other way of life other than Scientology. I had been programed a certain way. I joined the Sea Organization at 12 when most kids should be living with their parents and going to school. And here I was at 17 thinking, OK, I’m going to have a kid and I’m told, well, here’s — here’s the dynamics…and because I’m so programmed to think that way there was no other option for me at that point. I’m now so convinced by these people that that’s the only option I have.

Here’s another example of Laura sparring with a church attorney, who was apparently trying to get her to say something about the daunting prospect of pregnancy with meager resources…

 
LDDep2a

 
Now, Laura has access to her pc files, and one of the most anticipated results of getting that material is evidence that the church knew she didn’t want to have an abortion.

She found that evidence, but it only raises more questions.

Among the 18,000 pages the church turned over was a document compiled in 2002 by a supervisor who was amassing a summary of Laura’s career in the Sea Org. (Scientology is known for its voluminous record-keeping, which includes indexes and indexes of indexes.) In that document there are two separate notations which each indicate that in February 1996, Laura learned she was pregnant and did not want an abortion. But the second of those two notations is particularly interesting…

 
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It reads: “27 Feb. 96 Note from D/CO I [Deputy Commanding Officer for Internal], Laura is 2 months pregnant, upsets about this, doesn’t want abortion.”

It’s a smoking gun, a notation by a Scientology official confirming that Laura did not want an abortion, but it’s more potentially damaging to the church for another reason: this is a 2002 index, referring to a 1996 report by the D/COI which apparently goes into some detail about Laura’s abortion and how she felt about it.

That 1996 report was not included in the evidence the church was required to turn over by court order.

“There were documents from which that summary was taken that were not produced by CSI [the Church of Scientology International], as ordered by the Court,” Laura writes.

We have a feeling this is going to become a matter of some fierce litigating as the case goes forward.

Meanwhile, there are other notations about Laura’s abortion in her pc files. From 2001 to 2004, Laura was being punished in the Rehabilitation Project Force, and in March 2002, she was audited. Notes taken by her auditor indicated that she still has not recovered from having the abortion six years earlier.

 
LDExDD

 
Says one portion of the notes: “All kinds of rejected emotion on cycle. Didn’t want abortion. Didn’t want to leave. Didn’t want leave or abortion.”

And from another auditing session that month…

 
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“After abortion…(Look in folder summary. Folder #9)…I was upset. Whole subject confusing…I still feel fucked that did that, not of doing it but having to do it.” The auditor then notes, “suppressed grief.”

If the church files are missing a crucial 1996 report about Laura’s unwillingness to have an abortion, they did include a document which Laura says she was compelled to write in 1996 in order to give the church cover.

There are certain documents in my file that make it appear as if I agreed with having an abortion. These statements were written under duress and out of fear that I would get in trouble if I did not “agree” with having an abortion. For instance, I was accused by Gabriella Saccomanno of getting pregnant because I wanted to leave, which was contrary to the Church of Scientology’s policies. I therefore wrote statements to make it appear as if I did not want to leave and that I agreed to have an abortion.

In her pc files, Laura found an example of such a document…
 
LDExEE

 
As in the confessions she had been writing since the age of 12, Laura knows how to couch an “upset” in terms Scientology wants to hear. In this case, the enormous grief she feels over having an unwanted abortion has left her with “charge” — negative mental energy that she wishes to dissipate with Scientology’s counseling techniques.

But Laura continued to feel miserable about the abortion, as the 2002 auditing notes make clear.

By then, she was stuck in Scientology’s prison detail, the RPF, with no end in sight.

 
[Next page: Escape, mind control, and the DOX]

 

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