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Botched Abortion Survivor’s Story of Forgiveness


Claire Culwell’s life almost ended before it began. Her birth mother, Tonya, was only 13 years old when she found out she was pregnant. When Tonya told her mom, the decision to have an abortion was made for her. After the abortion was finished, Tonya was expected to go back to the 8th grade and carry on with life like nothing ever happened. She was devastated, scared, and confused but did as she was instructed. Shortly after the abortion, she was having pain and thought she was just dealing with complications after the procedure. After a few weeks, Tonya’s mom took her back to the doctor only to find out there was another baby left alive in her womb. Tonya was pregnant with twins—one was aborted and one survived. Tonya’s mother was furious and demanded another abortion, but the doctor refused because Tonya was too far along. In addition, when they aborted her twin the sac was ripped so Claire had to be delivered prematurely. Then, she was put up for adoption.     


Warren and Barbara tried to have children for years but couldn’t. So, they decided to adopt Claire and another girl named Rachel. Both girls were always told they were chosen and wanted. They grew up in a loving home filled with Jesus.

Claire’s younger sister Rachel decided to meet her birth mother. When Claire saw their connection, she decided to do the same. At 21 years old, while waiting to find out if her birth mother Tonya wanted to meet, Claire thought about what she might say if that moment came. She decided to thank her for choosing life instead of abortion. But when Tonya agreed to meet, the reunion was no fairytale.

Claire explains, “With tears in her (Tonya’s) eyes, she began, ‘I was thirteen when I got pregnant and had just turned fourteen when you were born. What happened isn’t what you think happened.’ She paused, ‘I didn’t choose to give life to you.’” Tonya went on to tell Claire how her mom chose abortion for them all. Claire was shocked! She always assumed her birth mother chose to deliver her and then give her up for adoption. Now, Claire was not only faced with that but also the tragic news that her twin was successfully aborted!


Feeling hurt and rejected, Claire explains, “I can tell you that even today, years after the sudden revelation, it’s still hard to fathom it all.” During these difficult times, Claire called her mom and dad (Warren and Barbara). “Always remember,” her dad told her, “we wanted you, Claire. We chose you. Look at it this way. God must have had a pretty big plan for your life to bring you through all of that. You’re really supposed to be here!’”

Being faced with all of the painful information, Claire chose to forgive her birth mom and continue a relationship with her. She decided to embrace her unique circumstance and began sharing her story with the world, urging listeners to understand how abortion takes the life of a child.

Claire shares, “Many people’s minds and hearts are already made up on issues surrounding abortion. At times the whole debate can take on an abstract and theoretical tone as if these issues don’t have any connection to our daily existence. But I’m not abstract or theoretical. I wasn’t supposed to be alive, but here I am.”


Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Author, Survivor (Waterbrook & Multnomah, 2021); international pro-life speaker; host of Called to Be Bold podcast; featured on Fox News, Focus on the Family, many others; serves on communications and public policy committee for Texas Alliance for Life; Married, 4 children.


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