She gave several examples of how this worked in practice.
Two involved people refused the money for urgent dental work (her own son and a senior Scientology executive).
But the third incident, drawn from her own experience, was far more serious.
She got the results of a smear test back that showed abnormal cells lining her cervix. This showed that she was at the C.I.N. 3 stage, the worst on a scale of three: while she did not necessarily have cancer, she nevertheless needed further treatment as soon as possible.
O’Brien knew she had two options. One was to have an immediate biopsy, with follow-ups every six months; the other was to have a hysterectomy, an operation in which her womb would be removed, which of course meant she would be unable to have any more children.
“I knew the CofS [Church of Scientology] methods of encouraging abortions so the thought of having any more children was unlikely,” she wrote.
“I thought I had no choice, being a staff member of the CofS … to settle for the…hysterectomy.”
It was not just Scientology’s policy on having children that affected her decision; she made it clear that their failure to finance basic medical had also played a role.
“I also knew I would never be able to afford an operation every six months and certainly would not be assisted by the CofS financially or medically,” she wrote.
But she could not even afford the 5,000 dollars for the hysterectomy.
Two of her superiors made it clear they would not finance the intervention – they even advised her against having it, she wrote: “…they both disapproved of having any sort of having any sort of operation or surgery at all, to handle the cancer.”
She eventually came to an arrangement with the doctor by which she repaid the cost of the operation by doing an architectural rendering of his home (O’Brien is a trained architectural designer).
According to O’Brien, this was not the only time Scientology’s management ignored a serious, or potentially serious medical situation.
“There were three other CofS staff members diagnosed with Cancer when I was there… One continued to work at his desk until he died. There was no support or palliative care at the CofS, although there was a medical officer… not medically trained.
O’Brien said her final two years inside the Sea Org were spent on its Rehabilitation Project Force (RFP) a punishment programme for those members deemed to have failed to live up to the movement’s ethical standards.
The level of medical neglect there was if anything even worse, she wrote.
“On the RPF I was concerned about a bedridden elderly staff member who had cancer, who had seeping open chest wounds that needed to be cleaned and bandages change daily.
“Somehow I made time to do this for her, and even put up some curtains and cleaned her room.”
O’Brien was put on an even tougher programme as punishment for having put up curtains in the women’s dormitory: this was considered “idle” behaviour. She heard later that her bedridden colleague had died.
Scientology’s dark secrets
November 21, 2009