Andrea Yates Found Not Guilty!

Finally, Andrea Yates receives a fair verdict: not guilty by reason of insanity.

I blogged about Andrea Yates here. Her story is sickening. Her children weren’t the only ones who were lost. Due to a husband who pushed her to get pregnant in spite of warnings that she could become psychotic, and negligent medical care, Andrea Yates became severely ill and killed her children. She will never be the same, the children are dead, and the whole thing could have been easily prevented.

There’s bad news along with the good: an (unscientific) poll shows that 62% of people believe she should have been found guilty because she knew what she was doing. The lack of understanding about mental illness does tangible harm. If people appreciated mental illness for what it was, an illness rather than a moral failing, maybe someone would have stepped in and helped Andrea. Maybe if there was a widespread understanding of mental illness, medical doctors wouldn’t abandon patients. Maybe if there was a widespread understanding of mental illness, this would never happen again.

I don’t think any understanding of mental illness would have prevented Rusty Yates from pressuring Andrea to get pregnant. He was advised that she was ill, and that pregnancy would harm her. He didn’t care. He wanted another child, consequences be damned. Maybe if we valued a woman’s life as much as we valued a man’s desires, someone would have helped Andrea. Maybe someone would have convinced her that her health mattered.

Andrea Yates will be committed to a mental hospital. I hope that she finally gets the help she needs. I hope she can recover and find peace.


23 responses to “Andrea Yates Found Not Guilty!

  1. “Maybe if we valued a woman’s life as much as we valued a man’s desires, someone would have helped Andrea.

    Says it all.

    I, too, hope she now gets the help she needs and should have had a long time ago.

  2. Justjuliefornow

    Well said, once again.

  3. neuralgourmet

    You know, the only people I’ve known to consistently *get* Andrea Yates’ tragedy are people with mental illnesses (or their friends and families) and atheists. Oh jeesh! Now I’ve gone and gave the godidiots ammunition. Oh well, that doesn’t change the fact that over the edge of the 21st C. and we’re still trying to get rid of those damnable Victorian and Puritan notions about mind and brain.

  4. i feel for that woman. i feel for her babies and the family that was destroyed. i have to remind myself there is always more than one side to any story – more than one truth to any situation. this tragedy, i believe, occured because of ignorance – pure and simple. he was ignorant. and she was ignorant. combined, that can only create devastation.
    in this case, pure heartbreak.

  5. spotted elephant

    Cameo-That would be true, except that one doctor informed Rusty Yates that another pregnancy would almost definitely result in Andrea becoming psychotic. Rusty also had the evidence of living with her illness, and her suicide attempts. He chose to do nothing to help her, and he chose not to intervene for his kids.

    He’s even on record bragging that he never once changed a diaper. While refusing to participate in childcare is always disgusting, doing so when a partner is severely ill is reprehensible. Rusty Yates cannot claim ignorance as a defense.

  6. i don’t mean ignorance in the sense ‘he don’t know no better.’ i mean ignorance in the sense he was operating from an idiotic place. as in how we all fail to completely understand the importance of some situations now and again. parents of children who commit suicide often look back and realize they were blind to the cries for help. even when the cries were blantent. he’s an ass. but i doubt he was operating from a place of pure evil. unless, you catagorize ignorance as evil. which could be argued quite well. but if that’s the case, we’re all guilty to some extent.
    trust me, i have no sympathies for that man other than losing his children. my heart goes to her. i truely believe she was overwhelmed and fried. and i believe this could have been avoided had somebody just stepped in. but just as he failed to get her the help she needed or acknowledge how sick she really was – so did others.

  7. spotted elephant

    Cameo-Yes, there are several other people who didn’t help her. I’d like to see the negligent doctor brought up on charges, and I’d like to see the minister punished. As for Andrea’s family, well I suspect they’re being punished now. But the burden falls hardest on the spouse of the person who is too ill to take care of herself.

    Usually when children commit suicide, their parents weren’t given a *direct warning* by the doctor. Rusty Yates was given this direct *SUPER DANGER* sign that so few are given, and he chose to ignore it. In my mind, that’s criminal, not just normal human idiocy. He ignored the fact that she was overwhelmed and fried for a long time. But ignoring psychotic depression? No way. Trust me, it would require a herculean effort to overlook psychotic depression. We don’t have laws requiring people to help others who are in trouble, but at the very least, we do have laws requiring parents to protect their children. On that count alone, he’s liable.

  8. Madame DeBarge

    Few people in life piss me off more than Rusty Yates. The couple and their four children were living in a converted BUS when the doctor informed him of what another pregnancy could do to her.
    Four children weren’t enough?
    I will never understand how that man could have overlooked how his wife was. Now, she’s in a mental institution, where I hope with all my heart that she gets the right treatments, and he’s remarried. Oh yeah, that’s fair.
    Dear god, don’t let him breed again.

  9. Hey!

    I’m another childfree bipolar blogger!

    Checked out your post on dear Rusty, glad to find your site. I’ll be returning.

  10. Rusty Yates lost his kids because of that last pregnancy, and from his leaving the kids alone with her while in that condition. She should never have become pregnant again, and he should have stayed home from work with his family rather than leave them at the mercy of her ill thinking.

    When I was married with three young children, my husband suffered from mental illness, including psychotic episodes. Do you know that none of the psychiatrists would ever speak to me, his wife, about his illness? It was a function of patient privacy. He was prescribed Haldol, in the hospital, but he took himself off it upon going home. He was telling me many of the things he believed, and I was very worried about what he might to to us all, especially to the kids. If I could have gotten him to stay on the meds, I would have, but I had no right. I ended up leaving him, but could not legally prevent him from visitation with the kids. It was quite harrowing. It is now 17 years later, and I feel so very lucky that my children lived to be old enough to be able, as adults, to evaluate his condition.

  11. The ignorance surrounding mental illness in our society scares me. It’s even worse in a country like this one where it’s either ignored or treated as a matter of shame.

    This decision is huge. I’m so glad they finally arrived at the right verdict.

  12. SE: I am NOT in a very good place tonight — I am sad and confused and YES, a little drunk and very, very lonely .. buy I feel I love you and your tolerance and your big big heart– it is sooo big. Your honesty and just … SPOTTED E. of you, it just shinse thru …

    I’m glad you’re in this world.

    If/when I make it back to IL, I would so love to see you … we can meet halfway … and give you a HUGE hug!

    Yr blog means so much to me even tho I don’t Comment all the time.. I think you are a Very Special Individual .. AND That Bumble, of course,,…

    Apologies for the HUGE Sap Factor happening here … still, I feel safest here to do this .. which speaks volumes of how safe I feel here…

  13. Jeez… sorry for the typos…

  14. kaka, that was adorable. 🙂

  15. Andrea Yates needs love and care and treatment. I can’t even bring myself to think about her pain. Rusty Yates should have been on trial. The doctors and minister should have a case to answer. I saw a documentary on this case last year. It broke me apart.

    My neighbour is on two anti-psychotic drugs after a huge episode (out of the blue). He comes to my house daily and sits and tells me about the lack of support he is getting from his family. They are trying to hide what has happened to him. They tell him to “Think positive” and “shape yourself, pull yourself together” I am appalled. He will probably never recover. All I can do is point him towards the right people and hope that he gets there. Our culture is one of ignorance and loathing towards people with mental illness. We are all of us working to end that! xxx

  16. I agree, 100%. I wish a case like this could’ve been used to raise more serious concern for mental illness and oppressive men, but of course, that it always asking for too much.

  17. spotted elephant

    Kaka-That was not sappy, it was very sweet. Thank you!

    secondwaver-I’m sorry you had to go through that. The system isn’t just bad, it’s broken.

    aishwarya-I’d like to think that this decision is the beginning of society understanding. Maybe

    pippa-I think it’s wonderful that you’re trying to help your neighbor. His family’s reaction is so common, and so wrong. If he’d been diagnosed with diabetes, would they withhold insulin and tell him to “Think positively”? I don’t think so. But “mental” = shameful.

    edith-When I was teaching, I would talk about this case, and students would say the most horrific things I’ve ever heard. They were so far from empathy, or willingness to listen to what really happened. The majority just wanted to “fry” Andrea. I’d go home and curl up in a ball because the hate was so intense.

  18. spotted e-did you happen to see the coverage of this with that blond chick on CNN (i think) i think her name is grace jones or something like that? you want to talk about hate–she actually went through the list of “amnemities” that andrea yates would be “blessed” with while she was in a mental institution–started moaning and groaning about how did that seem fair? i had to switch the channel after a while, cuz this woman is supposed to be some big anti-violence advocate always going on and on about some missing girl here or some abused woman there…i guess her sympathies only extend to beautiful 18 year old girls, rather than beat up disabled mothers. i think the thing that all those people forget is that mental institutions are by no means enjoyable places to survive in–they often times modeled on prison systems–and even if they *do* get her the right treatements–she can be brought back into the consciousness that she killed her babies–boy, that oughta be a lovely awakening.
    grrr. i’m so angry at that grace lady i could just scream…

  19. brownfemipower: I’ve spent months in a private, high-end, extremely expensive mental hospital. It was a horrible experience, even with the nice paint and extra amenities.

    I’ve spent forty-eight hours in a public mental hospital. I hope with all of me that I never have to experience that stark and terrible reminder of how crappily we treat the mentally ill who don’t have money. The thought of receiving only that quality of care for the rest of my life? Terrifying.

    Psychiatric institutions are far from being luxurious. Unfortunately, if people became universally aware of that, they might feel they have to DO something about it. So it remains generally unknown.

    Gar. Angry.

  20. spotted elephant

    Bfp-I didn’t see her, but I found a blog posting on how Andrea Yates killed her children in cold blood and now would be “coddled”, so similar response. My blood pressure is having a hard time dealing with these responses. Some cases are murky-was the person ill, or not? But this one is so clear-how can people not have *any* empathy?

    And yeah-which is worse for Andrea Yates: going without treatment, or recovering and having to face all that she did, and all that happened to her? (shudder) Her situation is just horrible. How could anyone think that going to a mental institution would be great? Well, the same hateful people who are offended that prisoners get clean water to drink.

    Hexy-(hug) I didn’t realize that even high-end institutions were so awful. But I guess it’s not surprising-they may be high end, but they’re still for us crazies.

  21. Her name is Nacy Grace…

    and she has none.

  22. oops: *Nancy*

  23. I am a mentally ill person who believes the insanity defense should not exist. However, this has made me think more about it, and perhaps I will revise my position.

    Take care 🙂


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