FLUSHING — Martha Chima, a single mother of three, frequents The Bridge to Life pregnancy-help center in Flushing to get clothes and other supplies for her children.
The center, which is located on the second floor of a home that also houses a day-care center and Lutheran church, helps pregnant women and new moms in an effort to help women avoid abortion and keep their babies.
But the center’s lease will end next year. It will become a victim of rezoning, and it now needs financial help it move into and afford a new home.
It provides counseling and referrals for medical services like sonograms as well as clothes and baby supplies — all for free.
“We are living during RHA (New York state’s Reproductive Health Act), and seeing more young women who are afraid,” Cathy Donohoe, Bridge to Life’s president, said.
“That’s what a strong pregnancy service network is all about — a number of pregnancy care centers that support one another, from housing and medical needs, to self-diagnosing and material assistance, which is what we do. We do whatever is needed, and we’re not just pro-baby. We support the whole personhood from conception, no exceptions,” she said.
Francesca Yellico, Bridge to Life’s executive director, understands the center’s clients because she was once in their shoes: She had an unplanned pregnancy when she was 18 years old.
“After I had my baby, I remember being in my bedroom and just holding her, crying at the thought that I even contemplated [abortion] for a second. My daughter wouldn’t be here. And I became more informed, started educating myself on the procedure … I thought, these poor girls; somebody’s got to do something to help them. So I started volunteering as a counselor, and it changed the course of my life,” Yellico said.
“That little girl, my daughter, who I once thought about aborting, is now pregnant with baby No. 3. Before she got pregnant, she was also volunteering as a counselor at the same place I used to,” she added. “It’s all about arming people with the truth.”
The Bridge to Life is a nonprofit that depends on donations. It is trying to help save the lives of the unborn in a city that’s unofficially the abortion capital of the world.
According to the data from Guttmacher Institute reported by Abort73.com, a pro-life site, 31 percent of pregnancies in New York state ended in abortion in 2017, the year for which the most recent data are available, and according to Guttmacher itself, the number of abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the state in 2017 was just over 26, about double the national average.
New York’s Reproductive Health Act, which was enacted in January 2019 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded abortion rights in the state. The RHA allows abortions in the third trimester — past 24 weeks of pregnancy — if the fetus is deemed “not viable” or the woman’s life is at risk.
Also, last year, New York City spent $250,000 to pay for low-income women to travel to the city from other states to obtain an abortion. Activists said that it was the first time a U.S. city allocated funds specifically for abortions, according to the New York Times.
“Women deserve better,” Donohue said.