Steven Tyler, leader of the megaband Aerosmith since the '70s, is now the star judge of "American Idol"; Tyler's new memoir is No. 2 on The New York Times' best-seller list.
From the distance of 40 years, Tyler remembers and writes in his memoir about the abortion he caused a 16-year-old girl: "You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I'm going, Jesus, what have I done?'
Years later, when Tyler and his then-wife were expecting their first child together, "I thought we'd give birth to a six-headed cow because of what I'd done with other women. The real-life guilt was very traumatic for me. Still hurts."
The pro-life community has been very gentle and compassionate with Tyler's confessions.
Even the mother of his aborted child, Julia Holcomb, who last week broke 36 years of silence to tell her side of the story to LifeSite News, sounded remarkably gentle and forgiving toward the rock star.
Well, I'm not.
She was 16; he was 26. She was traumatized by the loss via divorce and addiction of her father and her stepfather, followed by the loss of her grandfather and her brother to a car accident. The latter event seemed to send her churchgoing, loving, schoolteacher mother into a tailspin.
Julia ended up provocatively dressed at an Aerosmith concert in Portland, Ore. Tyler took her for his bedmate, and then persuaded her mom to make him Julia's legal guardian so that (he claimed) he could enroll Julia in school back in Boston. Tyler begged Julia to have his baby, and when she got pregnant, took her home to meet his family, who did not approve. Later, he stopped financially supporting Julia, and pressured her into having an abortion while she was in the hospital recovering from a fire that burned down his apartment.
She was five months pregnant. From Julia's account, it sounds like she had a saline abortion, which induces labor prematurely. The baby was born alive and died alone and neglected.
I'm glad she can forgive him, but the rest of us should ask for more.
Steven Tyler shows no real signs of remorse for what he did. He's made zero effort at any reparation, at least in public, and keeps portraying the mother of his first, still-born, child as a groupie slut.
"I came to him with nothing and I left him with nothing, except regrets," writes Julia. "His continued gross exaggeration of our relationship is puzzling to me. He has talked of me as a sex object without any human dignity. I have made a point over these long years never to speak of him, yet he has repeatedly humiliated me in print with distortions of our time together. I do not understand why he has done this. It has been very painful."
Tyler's actions were not only wrong, they were illegal. He made himself her legal guardian in order to avoid the Mann act, which (at the time) forbade transporting minors across state lines to have sex. A legal guardian having sex with a minor child is, by definition, sex abuse in many states.
Julia Holcomb chose to recover her personal dignity by turning to Jesus Christ, finding a good family man for a husband, raising six kids and becoming legal guardian to a seventh child. She never asked Tyler for anything.
But just because she does not ask for anything, doesn't mean he owes her nothing. He owes her, first of all, an apology, for taking advantage of a 16-year-old girl in calculated, ongoing ways, for arranging to become her legal guardian, for asking her to get pregnant, proposing marriage and then pressuring her to have an abortion, for failing to offer her rudimentary financial support, and then, finally, dragging her story into the spotlight.
Steven, if you are sorry, you have to act, not speak. Send her a letter via LifeSite News, apologizing. Then ask a lawyer what you would have owed your joint child through child support as well as the civil liability for the abuse of guardianship had she pursued either. I'm sure it's a good pot of money. Donate it to a pro-life organization, in the name of your first (stillborn) child.
Apologies without reparations don't mean very much.
And without either, your remorse is just more self-centered abuse of others.
(Maggie Gallagher is the founder of the National Organization for Marriage and has been a syndicated columnist for 15 years.)