In the Fall 2020 issue of 40 Days for Life’s quarterly publication “Day 41,” 40 Days campaign leader Heather Barwick described hiding her “tears and shame” as she stood and prayed at a pro-life event in January 2019. It was the day before Barwick’s 4oth birthday — 20 years after her own abortion experience. She wrote, “I didn’t imagine my tearful witness was the first step of a journey that would ultimately bring me to lead a 40 Days for Life vigil. But God took hold of my 40th year, not only guiding me, but also laying out a defined, paved road to healing.”
Barwick felt compelled to attend the event after viewing Abby Johnson’s film, “Unplanned.” She said that “When… Unplanned came out that spring, my mom suggested I find time to watch it.” After several other friends and family encouraged her to see the film, Barwick and her husband attended a showing at their church. She recalled, “The floodgates opened during the closing credits as I recounted my abortion experience to my husband.” She went on, “Abby’s story opened my heart to a new concept related to abortion-forgiveness…. I devoured Abby’s book and started listening to The 40 Days for Life podcast, making it easier for me to accept the invitation to pray at the local abortion facility. My sister — one of the few people who knew about my abortion — joined me the first few times.”
Years before, Barwick’s sister had asked her Bible study leader how to respond when a loved one had had an abortion. Ten years later, Barwick sought advice from the same woman about becoming more involved with 40 Days for Life. Feeling convicted that she “needed to be [at the abortion facility] on abortion days,” Barwick knew her words to the abortion-minded women would be more impactful if she could acknowledge, “I had an abortion; please don’t do this.” She also knew, “before those words could cross my lips, I realized I first had to tell my parents.”
Barwick said she felt her upcoming 41st birthday would be the best time to tell them about the abortion she deeply regretted. Just days after rehearsing her speech with a 40 Days leader, Barwick spoke to her parents, saying, “… [T]wenty years ago, I made a terrible decision that has shaped my life. I never intended to share this burden with you. But God has put me on a path, and I cannot be as effective on that path unless I am honest about my past. I didn’t know that I needed to be able to say it out loud until I stood outside of an abortion clinic.”
Barwick’s parents responded by extending great grace to their daughter. “My parents were loving and forgiving. They told me how proud they were of me and the strength I have shown defending life,” Barwick said. “The conversation was beautiful. After not sleeping through the night for months, I woke up on my 41st birthday rested and so light.”
Now, Barwick leads a 40 Days vigil in Florida, and says she is “using my experience to help other women find the healing that long eluded me. Twenty years is far too much time to hold on to a devastating secret — especially when you see how quickly forgiveness can come.”
Live Action News has shared many stories of abortion healing, including those from individual women as well as organizations that provide opportunities for healing through Bible studies, retreats, and even a non-explicitly faith-based approach to reach hurting post-abortive women who are feeling far from God.
Many women like Barwick are examples of the beauty that can come from healing after abortion.
Source: Barwick, Heather. (Fall 2020). When 40s Align: Heather Barwick kept her abortion secret for decades. Praying outside her local abortion facility brought her peace and healing. Day 41, volume 4, 3, 20-21.
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