Monday, March 22, 2010
Help Me Howard: Pregnant and Upset
If you are hungry or homeless, or pregnant and single, there is government assistance to help you, but one South Florida woman is pregnant, single, a student in law school and needs help, but is being told you cant get help because you are in school. Strange, she thought, so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN-- In two months Christine graduates from law school. In four months she takes the bar exam.
Christine Young: "I want to do criminal law."
But, instead of spending all her time studying for tests, she is trying to learn about something else.
Christine Young: "I am pregnant."
Christine found out she was pregnant in January. A few days later she says she found out the baby's father wanted nothing to do with her.
Christine Young: "Pretty much I am on my own. I'm going to be a single mom."
A single mom getting through law school on the few dollars left in her student loan, with no money to pay doctors to insure a healthy delivery.
Patrick Fraser: "So for the first 10 weeks you were your own doctor."
Christine Young: "I was."
Then the state agreed to pay for doctors visit.
Christine Young: "This is my baby's first pictures. I had my first ultrasound yesterday."
But, Christine's student loan runs out next month and without assistance, she has no idea how she will make to the delivery date.
Christine Young: "The thing is I have no income. I am a student and I have no money coming in."
Like many desperate pregnant women, she applied for food stamps and cash assistance, but the state turned her down because she is not like most single moms.
Christine Young: "It says in Florida, if you are a college student between the ages of 18 and 49 you are automatically denied. As a student you are denied."
She could quit school, stay at home and do nothing, which would make her eligible for government assistance.
Christine Young: "That law just seems ridiculous to me, that as a student you are categorically denied."
Another thought crossed her mind, if she can't get help for the baby, abort the baby.
Christine Young: "So, of course I thought about it, but I think along the way that is not what I wanted to do."
She will have the baby. Will care for the baby, but by the time the child is born this summer they may not have a place to call home.
Patrick Fraser: "What are you going to do for rent money in June, July, August, September?"
Christine Young: "I have no idea. Honestly. If they want to protect this child I am carrying this child, I need help too. I can't be on the street."
That frightens Christine, but what frustrates her, she will soon have a law degree and will be able to pay the state back ten-fold.
Christine Young: "I need help temporarily. I am not going to be on assistance forever, but right now I really need it."
She can't get help from the groups that oppose abortion, but don't have ways to help the mothers have the baby, and by the state which says, we can't help you because you are staying in school and getting a degree.
Christine Young: "I pretty much sit here all day and I am left with my thoughts and sometimes it's overwhelming and sometimes I break down and cry."
Well Howard, legally can you be punished for refusing to have an abortion and refusing to quit school.
Howard Finkelstein: "You would think that the State would want to help someone who is trying to make something of their life so they don't need further government assistance, but you would think wrongly. The law says, since she is a student she is ineligible and legally the state can do that."
When I spoke to various agencies we found the same thing Christine faced. A Department of Children and Families spokesman was very open and honest and said Christine doesn't meet the eligibility requirements because the system doesn't allow flexibility. The group, Respect Life Group, met with Christine, but they can't offer the cash for rent or food she needs for the next few months.
Christine Young: "I don't know if it's a girl or boy."
Christine doesn't know if she is carrying a boy or a girl. In fact, the list of things she doesn't know grows longer every day.
Christine Young: "I worry. I don't know what I am going to do now, in six months or when the baby is born. I don't know where the support is going to come from."
We talked to several groups who help people like Christine, they told us her situation isn't desperate enough yet. In other words, she needs to be hungry and homeless, but Christine is trying to plan ahead to get help before she and her baby are out in the street. In the meantime, know anyone who wants to give a full time law student a part time job?
Babied a problem so long you feel like you deserve a diploma. Ready to graduate to the next step. Contact us. No one ever called us honor students, but we will raise the bar a few inches off the ground.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: