Miguel A. Masteras founder and first president, of Maternity, synthesizes in this interview the reason for being of this association in defense of life.
You have spent half your life caring for pregnant women who are thinking of having an abortion. How did your pro-life militancy begin?
My first contact with the pro-life movement was in 2000, after attending a conference on post-abortion trauma. I was very shocked by the fact that, in addition to the cruelty of ending the life of a human being, abortion left lifelong sequels in women, to which must be added a deep wound in the soul. I was a restless young man and that same day I decided to get involved in the pro-life movement as a volunteer for a local association. At that time, the Pro-Life movement was limited above all to political and social vindication and cultural actions, not so much in serving women who were thinking of having an abortion. In cities like Madrid they were more advanced, but not in the provinces.
You went from being a volunteer to dedicating your life to the pro-life cause. What made you take that step?
In the summer of 2009 my girlfriend, now my wife, invited me to travel on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Bosnia, where it was said that Marian apparitions had taken place since the 1980s. The truth is that I went with a lot of disbelief and the last thing I expected was to have an experience there that would mark a before and after in my life. I am a fairly rational person who struggles with the supernatural, but despite this, I had an experience that changed me forever. Not only did I see the horror of abortion and its consequences, but I also received the call to give myself completely to defend life and bring the souls of these women closer to Christ.
The Lord asked me, with my infinity of limitations, with myriad defects and miseries, to consecrate my life to fighting abortion. I talked about it with the one who was my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, without really knowing if this consecration should be as a celibate or as a husband and father of a family. Her support at that time was fundamental. The days after I had a very strong internal struggle. The Lord asked me to leave everything. It took me a long time to talk about what happened, I just got down to work.
A consecration within a marriage and with a large family. How do you reconcile family life with this consecration?
It is not easy, especially when one is the father of a large family, but I also have to say that since all this is the work of the one above, he has given us the necessary means to be able to combine it. My day has 24 hours, but it seems to be 48.
How was Maternity born and with what objectives?
After those first 10 years of experience (2000-2010) we decided to launch Proyecto Maternity, whose purpose is to help those women who have doubts about what to do with their pregnancy, offering them an alternative to abortion. But not only that, our mission is not only to save lives, but also and above all to help save souls, bring these women closer to Christ, share our faith with them, baptize their children, bring them closer to the sacraments, not only to those who decide to continue, but also those who unfortunately decide to abort, for them it is also Maternity… If the yes of a mother to continue with the pregnancy is a real joy, it is even more so when they decide to baptize their children or when they themselves decide to take the step. From something as terrible as an abortion, something as wonderful as a conversion can be born.
Within all the pro-life organizations, what is the most specific about you?
Well, from the first moment we have had our own charisma that has been developing over the years. What I have always been clear about is that, although we have a moral obligation to encourage every woman to continue with her pregnancy, we cannot fall into the hypocrisy of not helping her in everything she needs and leaving her alone. For this reason, from the beginning we have tried to cover all the needs that a woman may have at a time like this. Time and experience have shown us that more than material help, what these women need is accompaniment, listening, affection, a lot of affection… but we cannot forget that their needs must also be met. This requires a great effort on our part, human, material and economic. Not only do we cover her material needs, but we also provide professional training to facilitate her incorporation into the labor market. We want them to be successful women, who do not depend on anyone.
In these 12 years of Maternity we have been able to create our own model, our own and differentiated way of caring for these women. We have had to develop a technique that allows us, while respecting their freedom, to help these women make the decision to continue with their pregnancy. Throughout all these years there are thousands of women we have attended and we have been learning from them. And always without losing our objective: We were not born to be an entity to help pregnant or lactating women in general, for that there are already other institutions such as Cáritas; we are an answer for those women who are thinking about having an abortion.
How did they spread to different cities? Do you plan to continue growing?
Maternity was born to grow and go where a woman needs us. We started in Bilbao, my hometown, and little by little we have been spreading to different cities: Barcelona, Zaragoza, Huesca… and for a few years we have started working in Latin America. We are always open to being able to start work in any city. They write to us and call us from different points, this year we have trained people in Colombia and Chile. It is enough that someone asks us to go for us to go. We pray it and we launch.
What would be the balance of the work you have done so far in these years?
In addition to having a model of intervention, care and support of our own, always seeking professionalism and being able to give women the best service, we have managed to save thousands of lives and help many women to continue with their pregnancy as successful mothers. and drawing them closer to the Lord.
In addition, we have managed to be a benchmark in helping pregnant and lactating women and have the respect of institutions. We are able to be an alternative for many women who are forced to have an abortion due to loneliness, abandonment, misunderstanding… we get 9 out of 10 women who come to us to continue with their pregnancy.
Nine out of ten, what role does prayer play in all of this?
Prayer is essential in this battle. We have many people who pray daily for our work. Otherwise it would be impossible. In the end we are nothing more than tools. We do nothing. We only let ourselves be carried away by those who can do everything.
How many babies do you estimate they have been able to save?
Every week we stand in front of the abortion centers to offer our help to the women who go there. It is difficult to know how many finally decide to have their children; What we do know is that there are more than 2,000 women that we have cared for in our centers and who have decided to continue with their pregnancy. Women who arrive with the intention of aborting and finally decide to continue. Every week, in addition to the women that I attend to on foot in the abortion room, I attend to many pregnant women who come to our center; It is from them that I have learned the most.
Their ultimate goal is not only to save lives, but also for those children who are born to be baptized….although curiously they do not speak to mothers directly about God. How is that process of bringing them closer from the natural plane to the supernatural?
I think you lead by example. Once they have already decided to have their children, they continue to be linked to us, and they are the ones who want to know why we do all this. They are the first to discover that there is something bigger that moves us and they want to know it. The first thing is that they feel that infinite love of God that moves us to do what we do. Then comes the rest. We have catechetical groups where many have begun a journey of conversion, some ask for baptism, others go to confession after many years… Look, at the last baptism we had in July, there were 10 children baptized. For that alone, it’s already been worth it.
How do you insert your work into the life of the Church in the different dioceses that work?
Maternity is an independent entity, and we take great care in our independence. Out of deference, whenever we arrive in a city, we present ourselves to the bishop. But that we are independent, does not mean that we are not Church. We serve her with our apostolate.
What projects do you have for the future?
Our idea is to consolidate ourselves, reach a greater number of women, be present in most of the centers where abortions are performed, be able to act in public centers, so that no woman has to be forced to have an abortion. For this we want to train new volunteers. Training is essential. One cannot launch into an adventure; we are talking about a woman who needs our help, we cannot do experiments. I always say that my way of helping women 20 years ago was not the same as it is now, the situation has changed, the mentality too, and unfortunately abortion has been consolidated. On the other hand, we want to open reception centers where mothers can live.
How can I collaborate with you?
The fact of being an organization that is financed 100% by providence without receiving any public subsidy, makes our work very difficult. It is true that our poverty is the price of this independence, but with new partners and benefactors we could reach a greater number of women without losing that independence. On the other hand, we need volunteers. It is important that people get involved. There will be those who cannot collaborate financially, but can do so with their time.
By Javier Navascues