Ex-Scientologist 'pressured' to have abortions

ABC News, Australia/March 17, 2010

A woman who claims she was pressured by Scientologists to have two abortions has urged the Prime Minister to support an inquiry into the church.

Janette Lang was a member of the Church of Scientology for 13 years from when she was 20 years old.

She says she has been damaged by her involvement with the church and some years worked for a pay of just $2,000.

Speaking at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday, Ms Lang says she was pressured to have two abortions or risk being cut off from the church.

"On the day I had the [first] abortion I asked not to be fully sedated just in case I got the courage to say no and pull out of the operation," she said.

The Government and Opposition have refused to support a Senate inquiry into the church but Ms Lang has urged Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Tony Abbott to allow it to go ahead.

"I say to Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott please don't make us suffer in silence," she said.

"I'm speaking out today because the time has come for victims of Scientology to be heard."

Ms Lang said she had never told many of her family and friends about what she had been through while a member of the church, but she does not fear retribution.

"I don't think they can do anything to me that they haven't already done," she said.

The push for an inquiry is coming from Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who failed last week in his first attempt to have the Senate examine the church.

On Thursday he will again move for an inquiry to be held, but says its terms of references will be different by focusing on occupational health and safety laws and consumer protection laws.

"I'm confident that my colleagues are thinking more deeply about this than they did a week ago," he said.

Senator Xenophon has been pushing for an inquiry since last year, when he aired allegations of forced abortions and abuse from former members of the church.

Both major parties have been opposed to the inquiry because they say any allegations of criminal activity should be investigated by the police.

Church of Scientology spokesman Cyrus Brooks says it does not force anyone to get abortions.

"Members of the religious order, the Sea Organization, who have children leave full time staff to care for and raise their family. Regular Church staff have children and continue on staff as they choose," he said.

"If Senator Xenophon had accepted the Church's and numerous Scientologists' invitations to meet he would have realised these claims are baseless.

"Any personal decision made was between [Janette] and her husband and they discussed this personal matter as close friends and no one from the Church had any to do with any personal decision."

Mr Brooks also said people do not work for the church for "monetary gain" and donate their time.

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