When Julia Holcomb spoke, “you could hear a pin drop”

Fourth in the Voices to Trust series.

Julia Holcomb at NHRTL event, October 2014
Julia Holcomb at NHRTL event, October 2014

Julia Holcomb visited New Hampshire a little over a year ago to speak at a fundraising banquet for a pro-life group. I was there, and I can still remember how the crowd hung onto her every word. As someone at my table that night said later, “You could hear a pin drop on the floor in the back of the room.”

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Julia endured a coerced saline-method abortion at the age of 17, in her fifth month of pregnancy. The father of the child was Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Many years later, Julia wrote about their relationship and the abortion in The Light of the World: the Steven Tyler and Julia Holcomb Story.  

“The doctor did not explain what the procedure would be like. Steven watched when the doctor punctured my uterus with a large needle. Then I was taken to a room to wait for the contractions.  Steven sat beside me in the hospital until it was over.  When the nurse would leave the room he was snorting cocaine on the table beside my bed….Steven, high on cocaine, was emotionally detached, witnessing the procedure but cut off from the normal reaction and feelings of horror you would expect.  At the time I was shocked and hurt by his behavior.

“But I know now that on an unconscious level, he must have been traumatized witnessing the death of his first-born son in such a horrific and direct way. Steven watched the baby come out and he told me later, when we were in New Hampshire, that it had been born alive and allowed to die.  (I was not allowed to see the baby when it was delivered.) Steven told me later that it had been a boy and that he now felt terrible guilt and a sense of dread over what he had done.  I did not know that such a thing could be legal.  I could not imagine a world where a tiny baby could be born alive and tossed aside as worthless without ever seeing his mother’s face.

“Nothing was ever the same between us after that day…”

That was a long time ago. The relationship with Tyler did not last. Better things were in store for Julia; she and her husband have been married for more than thirty years and are the parents of seven children. Julia now speaks on behalf of Silent No More Awareness campaign along with other post-abortive women who want to “break the silence” and speak “the truth about abortion’s negative consequences and the hope found in healing.”

“I pray that all those who have had abortions or have participated in any way in an abortion procedure may find in my story, not judgment or condemnation, but a renewed hope in God’s steadfast love, forgiveness and peace.”

Watch a video of Julia Holcomb’s testimony at silentnomoreawareness.org.

An evening of celebration & reflection

Julia Holcomb, Silent No More
Julia Holcomb, Silent No More

New Hampshire Right to Life’s banquet last week was the usual cheerful gathering. Dinner service began later than scheduled, thanks to a lot of mingling and laughter. High school and college students filled some of the tables, with the young men looking various shades of uncomfortable in their jackets and ties. A few candidates made the rounds. Everyone applauded the evening’s honorees.

Then Julia Holcomb started talking, and the vast banquet hall went silent. “You could hear a pin drop on the floor in the back of the room,” reported one of her listeners later.

Julia is with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. She’s a happy woman who has built a good life: married for 30 years, mother to seven children with her husband. Her story is about another child, her first, lost at five month’s gestation to a saline abortion when Julia was 17. (Does anyone born since 1990 know what that is? Inject saline into the mother’s uterus, scald the baby to death, deliver dead baby. State of the art in the late twentieth century.) The abortion was coerced. The father was and is rich and famous. The relationship did not survive the abortion by very long. Her own account is far more compelling than any description I could provide; take the time to watch a video of her testimony here.

It’s tough to take phrases like “choice” and “reproductive justice” seriously after hearing from Julia Holcomb. Slogans fade away in the face of a woman speaking with such courage and honesty.


Seen at NHRTL’s 2014 banquet: