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'What Have I Done?' A Father's Remorse

On Father’s Day, many young dads spend a happy day with their children—kids who give them garish ties or cook them a breakfast of rubbery eggs and burned toast.

But to some fathers, the day is spent in anguish. It’s a day spent, not with their children, but with their memories of the children they helped abort.

Among these men are former Aerosmith rock star Steven Tyler, now a judge on “American Idol.”  When Tyler was in his twenties, he and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Julia Holcomb, learned they were having a baby.

Tyler was initially happy about becoming a father. But five months later, he changed his mind. He convinced his reluctant girlfriend that she had to abort their baby.

The abortion was a nightmare. A doctor punctured Holcomb’s uterus with a large needle, and she went into labor.  The baby boy was born alive and left to die.

In a book titled Walk This Way, Steven Tyler recalls the horror of that day. “It was a big crisis,” he writes. “You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch [the baby come out]…I was pretty devastated. I’m going, ‘… what have I done?’”

The abortion still haunted him years later when he and his wife Cyrinda were awaiting the birth of their first child. As Tyler recalls, “I was afraid. 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.”

That’s not surprising, notes Kevin Burke, a social worker and co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, which offers healing for men and women traumatized by  abortion. At LifeNews.com, Burke writes that Tyler had suffered a traumatic event, as defined by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: That is, he had experienced “an event…that involved actual or threatened death”—an episode that involved a response of “intense fear, helplessness, or horror.” If a traumatized person “fails to process the images and memories of that experience and heal the psychic wounds,” Burke writes, he “is likely to go numb, run, and act out the unresolved themes of the trauma.”

In Tyler’s case, acting out his trauma involved heavy drinking and drug use, trashing hotel rooms, and expressing “toxic rage” toward his band mates. Nor was this merely the typical behavior of a rocker. As Tyler’s friend Ray Tabano notes, “They had the abortion, and it really messed Steven up.”

The abortion industry claims that abortions do not cause psychological harm to either women or men. If that were true, Rachel’s Vineyard would not be holding more than 700 retreat weekends ever year, around the world. Retreats that offer hope and healing for mothers, fathers, siblings, and grandparents of aborted babies. Those retreats underscore the truth of the Biblical teaching that children are a blessing, not a curse, and that fathers are meant to protect their children.

On Father’s Day this Sunday, I hope you’ll take time out to pray for the victims of abortion—including anguished fathers who cannot forget.

This article published on June 17, 2011. Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. 

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