The Church of Scientology does not take a position on abortion. However, the subject comes up in the writings of church founder L. Ron Hubbard, which the church regards as sacred scripture.
Scientology counseling seeks to rid the mind of "mental image pictures" or "engrams" created during painful moments in one's past - including previous lifetimes and time spent in the womb.
Hubbard expressed concern about the "prenatal child" and how the emotional traumas of "attempted abortion" can cause problems after the person is born.
Some excerpts from Dianetics:
"Once the child is conceived, no matter how 'shameful' the circumstances, no matter the mores, no matter the income, that man or woman who would attempt an abortion on an unborn child is attempting a murder which will seldom succeed and is laying the foundation of a childhood of illness and heartache.
"Anyone attempting an abortion is committing an act against the whole society and the future; any judge or doctor recommending an abortion should be instantly deprived of position and practice, whatever his 'reason.' "
"A woman who is pregnant should be given every consideration by a society which has any feeling for its future generations."
Thetans and Conception
Scientologists believe that man is more than a mind and a body, he is a spiritual being called a thetan, for the Greek letter theta, for thought. That being occupies an endless series of bodies. That's why Scientologists say someone who dies has "dropped his body."
When does the thetan enter the body? At conception?
Church spokesman Tommy Davis answered: "There is research in Dianetics suggesting that as a fetus grows, perceptions are recorded, beginning the moment of conception and continuing throughout the pregnancy. . . .
"L. Ron Hubbard observed that in most cases the spiritual being takes over the body just prior to birth."
Several women say their supervisors cited a common refrain to persuade them to abort their pregnancies:
What would be the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics?
That question refers to the eight "dynamics of existence" that Scientologists use to solve life's problems.
Represented by the eight points of the Scientology cross, each dynamic is an "urge" that propels a person through life. First is the urge for self preservation, second is the urge to create a family or have a sexual partner, third is to be part of a group.
The remaining dynamics place one's urge to survive in progressively larger contexts: (4) the human race, (5) all life forms, (6) the physical universe, (7) the spiritual world, (8) infinity.
When addressing problems, Scientologists are to find the best solution for the greatest number of dynamics - even if something must be destroyed for the greater good.
A pregnant woman in Scientology's workforce, the Sea Org, could keep her baby, which under the rules would mean leaving the group. Or she could get an abortion and stay in the Sea Org.
What to do?
Apply the dynamics.
Starting a family would be good for the first and second dynamics. Getting an abortion - getting back to helping the group work on saving the planet - can be seen as satisfying the third.
At issue is what is best for the remaining dynamics. According to several women, church supervisors said the church's well-being was what mattered above all else, across all the dynamics, suggesting abortion was the way to go.
Church spokesman Tommy Davis said there was no pressure on women to have abortions, and he disputed the women's accounts concerning how dynamics were to be applied.