America, New York City needs your help.
New Yorkers may not be known for asking for help, but a Houston native who's made it her home is not bashful about asking.
Tanya Bishai is vice president for advancement at Avail, a safe haven for women in midtown Manhattan. Avail wants to be the first place women facing a possible unplanned pregnancy in New York City go to for testing and verification.
"Women need to know they have a choice," says Bishai. They don't have to go to an abortion clinic to verify their pregnancy, she says. Avail's services are free. "We give women what they want and what they need."
Avail gives a woman breathing room and lets her know there's support for her if she wants to choose to have her baby. Avail works to be "the safest place for processing and making decisions" as its staff provides a listening ear and "holistic" support.
Avail NYC has been around for almost two decades and is hoping to grow, seeing an increase in demand in the last two years. As its president, Suzanne Metaxas, put it during an annual fundraiser this spring, Avail was founded "in response to the overwhelming number of abortions that occur each year in New York City. ... The goal at Avail is "to support, educate and equip women to make the best choice for themselves and their unborn children: life."
With no pressure, but lots of support, Avail is an alternative anyone can get behind, whatever your politics when it comes to abortion.
Avail, which has a licensed medical professional and a dedicated medical suite on site, doesn't gloss over the force of the "pressure cooker" women face with an unplanned pregnancy. Its counselors are "highly skilled" -- some working on higher degrees in counseling -- and have a network of volunteers with extensive training in "reflective listening" to offer emotional, spiritual and social social support throughout a pregnancy and the first year of a child's life.
Avail is in the process of moving into a bigger, Times Square-area office. Its clients come from throughout the New York metropolitan area. Its dream is to have a presence in each of the city's five boroughs.
New York City has spots -- like the Bronx -- where there have been more abortions than live births among certain populations. It has even been dubbed the abortion capital of the United States. In a series of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that cover Planned Parenthood and the harvesting of fetal tissue, New York is seen as a boon industry for abortions and thus for anyone looking for this kind of specimen.
Everyone from Hillary Clinton -- Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger Award honoree of years past -- on down is disturbed by what is revealed on these videos. And as each video seems to get worse, fatigue can set in. What can any individual do about it? Supporting abortion alternatives like Avail is one way to help.
"We can't treat women like this. We can't treat life like this," Bishai says, when asked to comment on the Planned Parenthood videos. Her heart gets heavy as she reflects on the "callousness" of some of the conversations depicted in the videos.
"Women are at their most vulnerable" when they are facing an unintended pregnancy and ask for help, says Bishai. Avail is also a "safe place" for women to get "hope and healing" after an abortion. Many women have "deep regret and remorse" after the "deep trauma" of abortion. Bishai wants them to know they are not alone. If they want help, it exists.
Avail "is a very practical way to help," Madison Peace, Advancement & Communications Associate at Avail, emphasizes, with the commitment of another former longtime volunteer.
"Please help us reach more women in New York City," Bishai says.
Women are facing "heavy, complicated" situations. Let's quit pressuring them. Let's quit burdening them with miserable political debates. Let's help them.