By Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life
Editor’s note. This appears in the current digital edition of National Right to Life News. Please share this story and the entire contents of this issue with your pro-life family and friends.
At barely 22-years-old, Eleni Mastronardi has a unique perspective on her own existence and an amazing story to tell that goes back to her life in the womb.
Eleni’s mother was 41 and pregnant with her fifth child. The doctor announced at her mother’s first ultrasound there were brain anomalies including a large cavity abnormally filled with either fluid or air. She advised Eleni’s parents, Ann and Peter Demos, to abort the baby so they wouldn’t have to raise a child with “a long list” of mental and physical disabilities.
Eleni says her father, a physician, is “the king of making bad jokes at inappropriate times” and, as the story goes, he told the doctor abortion was out of the question. “That’s not what we’re going to do,” he said. “Now we know who the real airhead is in the family.”
The family sought prayers “everywhere” for their baby, Eleni says, but at the second ultrasound, the diagnosis was the same. The doctor pressed for abortion and then insisted on doing riskyprenatal tests — until Dr. Demos asked a question: “What is the rate of death [to the unborn child] from these tests?”
“The doctor got really mad,” Eleni says her father recalls. “Dad thinks he saw something in her eyes. She knew what he was talking about.” The implication was the doctor would deliberately do something to cause an abortion because she was so strongly pressuring Dr. and Mrs. Demos to abort Eleni. Her parents refused the test and said, “We will take the airhead.”
Their faithfulness and courage was rewarded at the third ultrasound appointment: the images showed no problem with Eleni’s brain. Whether she was miraculously healed in utero, or the pro-abortion doctor made egregious mistakes in interpreting the ultrasound is unknown.
Eleni was born healthy on May 30, 1999, the youngest of five siblings. She grew up in West Springfield, Massachusetts, and excelled in school. “Mistakes can happen or a miracle can occur,” she says. “God always has a plan.”
For as far back as she can remember, Eleni knew the story of her pre-natal life. Recently her mother sent her something Eleni wrote in the second grade. The assignment was to write five reasons you love your mother. Eleni listed as #1, “You didn’t abort me.”
Eleni’s journey to working at the National Right to Life Committee is another story in itself. When she was working on her undergraduate degree in Russian and Russian Literature at Virginia Tech, she applied for several internships that didn’t come through. A friend suggested that she apply with National Right to Life. She did and was accepted.
That internship quickly led to part-time employment, and in 2020 to full-time work with Jacki Ragan, the NRLC director of State Organizational Development and NRL Conventions, Inc.
That’s still not the end of the story. While an intern with NRLC, Eleni met her future husband, Matthew Mastronardi, a medical technician with the U.S. Air Force. They married and are now the parents of their first child, Anastasia, born May 14, 2021.
Given her degree in Russian and Russian Literature, Eleni said she imagined a different career path than pro-life work. Yet all her life her mother told her, “You are going to work for a pro-life organization and tell your story. And that’s what I ended up doing.”
And that’s exactly what Eleni will be doing later this month at the June 25-26 National Right to Life Convention in Herndon, Virginia. She’ll be conducting workshops on how state organizations can effectively use social media.