Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Andrea Yates - Justice is Served

"The jury looked past what happened and looked at why it happened. Prosecutors had the truth of the first day and stopped there. Yes, she was psychotic. That's the whole truth." Rusty Yates

I had a little trouble coping after our son was born. Not post-partum depression, just hormone rebalancing. A little weepy and wobbly, at times cranky, anxious, unsure. Just, you know... off. Perfectly normal for a new mom. A sane new mom.

I was fine in a couple of months. Mike was a good baby, which helped a lot. He did have one bout with colic. Only lasted about a month. But if you've ever had a colicky baby you know how hard it is to walk the floors hour after hour after hour with a baby who screams and screams and screams no matter what you do.

So we were lucky it was so brief. And my husband was right there sharing the work, sending me outside on "sanity breaks" because he could tune out the screams better than I. Plus we had a lovely Jamaican housekeeper with seven kids of her own and the life saving potion called Gripe Water.

And still.

There were nights when I said to my husband, If we've got it so easy and we're still going nuts, now I can understand why people drop-kick kids out of windows.

Don't start. I'm not advocating or excusing child abuse. If you have children, you get it. My amazing sister-in-law in Israel has ten kids. Four are grown and gone, but her house is now filled regularly with six grandchildren under six, three under a year old.

I can't imagine having that many kids. I don't know how anyone does it and stays sane. But many do, happily. And my hat's off to all of them.

At the same time, my heart goes out to Andrea Yates. She's a seriously ill woman who did the unthinkable, she killed her own children while in the throes of postpartum psychosis.

Please, don't go all Tom Cruise on me. Postpartum depression--and its evil twin, postpartum psychosis--is a genuine form of mental illness. It's a disaster for far too many women, and their families. To call Andrea Yates a cold blooded killer is even more insane.

The woman had a history of postpartum psychosis. She and her husband were warned not to have another child. She'd attempted suicide twice. She fell into a deep depression after her fifth child's birth--called by psychiatrists "catatonic"--which got even worse when her father died 4 months later.

And yet somehow, she slipped through the cracks. And on one horrible day 5 years ago, she systematically drowned each of her five children, one by one, in a delusional state, believing Satan was inside her and she was trying to save them from hell.

It just doesn't get any worse. And no sane mother would do such a thing. Period.

The first jury disagreed. But their heartless decision to believe the misguided attempts by male prosecutors to label Mrs. Yates as a monster was overturned on appeal. And today, at her second trial, a reasonable jury found Andrea Yates not guilty by reason of insanity.

She will spend her life in a mental hospital for killing her children. Maybe someday she'll be judged sane enough to be released. I hope that day comes for her. But she will never be sane enough to have more children, because it could happen again.

For Andrea Yates, her crime is her punishment.



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