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.