I have not written about the Andrea Yates trial or verdict. As the mother of five myself, the case has been painful for me to contemplate.
But I have thought about it. And this week a number of people have asked for my opinion. I've found it interesting to note THEIR opinions as well.
Andrea Yates was a desperately mentally ill woman. That is not debatable. She sought help numerous times. That also is not in question. She was, by all accounts, a good and decent woman, a biddable wife and devoted mother who, captive to her psychosis, killed her children to save them. Sending her to prison would not be justice. She will likely spend most of, if not all, the rest of her life in a mental institution. I suspect from hearing and reading accounts of her character and personality, that, if she were to be healed of her mental problems, facing the fact of her actions would drive her insane again or torture her unmercifully. I don't think it's a woolly-headed knee-jerk response to feel the deepest compassion for this woman even while being broken-hearted about what her children must have experienced. It's at times like these that I'm grateful I have an unshakable faith in a good God who has dried their tears and welcomed into his home.
I have, however, serious questions about the criminally negligent complicity of her totally sane husband, who knowing she had serious problems, nevertheless left his children in her care.
That's what I've told people. And interestingly, not one mother has disagreed with me.
I've heard some really ugly comments on wingnut talk radio about the case, almost all from men. One caller was a woman who explained that she too had suffered from postpartum psychosis (Andrea was a diagnosed schizophrenic as well) and whose husband had removed the children from her care and committed her to a mental institution, which, she said, had saved both her life and her children's. Male callers seemed less than sympathetic.
One professional journalist I heard who was present for both trials and interviewed on the radio attributed the conflict between the verdicts to the difference in the makeup of the juries, as if any 12 people chosen at random might have judged differently. If that's true, thank God this was the jury Andrea received.
Here's a good summation of the jury's sentiments.
I echo them wholeheartedly.
Tags: Andrea Yates.