Andrea Yates Verdict: Not Guilty

July 26, 2006

Editor’s note: Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity by a Texas jury, and will be committed to a state mental hospital until she is no longer deemed a threat. Thanks minnmom, for this thought-provoking post and poll. -Erika

msnbc.com has a poll now that asks whether you think Andrea Yates knew what she was doing, or whether you think she was psychotic.  When I checked, two-thirds of the respondents said she knew what she was doing. If you want to vote for some reason, it’s at http://msnbc.msn.com/…
It seems self-evident to me that a woman who would drown all of her kids and then freely admit it is crazy– res ipsa loquitur, you know?  It’s not like she had anything to gain by killing them or tried to cover it up. It’s not like her PPD wasn’t documented.  So how all these people came to the conclusion that she did it out of some weird malice is beyond me.

Is it mysogyny?  Am I missing anything?  Was anyone else completely creeped out by Rusty Yates?  I remember hearing an interview with him right after it happened that made me think he was criminally negligent and abusive.  He said something to the effect of, “Andrea told me after our last kid that she didn’t want to have anymore, the depression was just too bad, so we sat down and talked about it, and I said you know we always wanted to have a big family, it’s something we talked about before getting married, we shouldn’t let this change our plans. So we decided to get pregnant again, it was a decision we made together.”  It made him sound like a real slimeball who didn’t listen to his poor wife at all.

There’s so much misunderstanding of PPD out there–even among doctors.  I still chafe of the thought of the GP I saw three months after my son was born because I was having PPD.  The depression started abuptly almost exactly three months after he was born, and a few days after my hair started falling out in giant clumps.  Incidentally, my mother experienced the exact same thing 3 months after I was born.  The GP knew all this and still told me it wasn’t post-partum depression because PPD can only start within two weeks of giving birth.  I think she was confusing PPD with the so-called “baby blues” which are supposed to go away after 2 weeks. She also told me that I was so depressed I definitely needed drugs and would probably never go off them.  Well, I did some research and she was completely wrong in everything she told me.  I knew it was hormonal and thought it would pass and it did . . . no drugs, and certainly not for the rest of my life.  

I feel so bad for the whole Yates family.  I wish there were more information and understanding of PPD.  More simple-minded reporting–why am I surprised?