Andrea Yates not guilty by reason of insanity

Texas mother said to have suffered from severe postpartum psychosis.

Lynn Harris
July 26, 2006 9:52PM (UTC)

Andrea Yates, the 45-year-old Texas mother who drowned her five children in 2001, has, in a second trial, been found not guilty by reason of insanity. (Her previous murder conviction was overturned because of erroneous evidence involving a nonexistent episode of "Law and Order.") Yates, no longer facing life in prison, will now be committed to a state mental hospital.

The insanity, in this case, was deemed to be severe postpartum psychosis. Yates' attorneys argued that she believed Satan was inside her; in her delusional state, she was trying to save her children from herself, and from hell. And indeed, jurors were convinced.


Though no aspect of a case so horrific could comfortably be called a "victory," it's worth noting that postpartum depression in its less severe, more common forms, has struggled for recognition as a legitimate medical condition. And that today, a government that prioritizes embryonic stem cells over needy children, say, all too often blames -- if not incarcerates -- "bad" mothers rather than offering the support they need. There's no happy ending here, but at least there's a little room for compassion.

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

MORE FROM Lynn Harris

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex


Read Now, Pay Later - no upfront
registration for 1-Hour Access

Click Here
7-Day Access and Monthly
Subscriptions also available
No tracking or personal data collection
beyond name and email address


Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •