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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Rights to reproduction? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Rights to reproduction?
lemming
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No, this isn't an abortion thread, and I have been poking about on Salon.com today, but I genuinely liked the points this article made, if not the confrontational manner the author chose.
http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2001/07/10/reproduction/index.html

Maybe it's because this issue is so close to home for me. I mean that literally - Andrea Yates, her husband, and their five children lived about two blocks from my house, in the very same neighborhood.

Or maybe it's because I'm a firm believer in Zero Population Growth. Or maybe it's simply because I'm frustrated at the antiquated methods of birth control still being offered to us as our only choices.

What do you guys think about the issues raised in this article? With such a blend of controversial topics, this is bound to offend someone, or strike a chord with you. What's your opinion?

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~lemming, Scarleteen Advocate

want to know the inner lemming? read her diary at http://innerlemming.diaryland.com/.
"Boo to the business world/You know a girl who's tax-free on her back and making/Plenty cash/But you are working for the joy of giving" --Belle and Sebastian, "Lazy Line-Painter Jane"


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Confused boy
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As often happens when I read some commentary, I agree with a lot of it, I disagree with some of it and I still have no idea how the problem (if indeed there is a problem at all should be solved).

Basically I feel this problem is merely a small part of the general problems of society anyway. Bad parents (if they are as she says, I havent seen evidence myself) are merely a product of a much alrger problem. Ergo so are children that hate their parents.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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LilBlueSmurf
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Yeah ... I hate to say i'm a bit offended. And i don't offend easily.

I do believe that postpartum depression is a problem for many mothers ... but on the other hand, she had five kids. Didn't she or her husband realize this was a problem after the first few? If postpartum depression is anything like the depression i've been facing for most of my life, i would stay the hell away from having babies.

I said a while ago (half jokingly) that everyone should have their tubes tied (males and females) when they're babies. When they're done school, independant, and able to provide for a baby, then they can have their "reproduction rights" back. This isn't likely to happen ... and it's not right anyway. If i want to drop out of school tomorrow and flip burgers for a living, and pop out 30 kids, who's going to stop me? Not a single person. No one.

And it keeps happening ... I don't blame Mrs. Yates for what happened. Yes, she did kill her kids but i'll just leave that to temporary insanity. People do really stupid things when they're desperate ... and she was. She's sick and she needs help. That doesn't bring back her children, nothing will ... So what can we do to stop this from happening in the future? I dunno.

I also believe another part of the article that said that we're all walking a thin line b/w sanity and insanity. Granted, not everyone trips and falls into insanity, and some of those that do are able to pull themselves out ... but what about those that aren't? Do we lock them up and throw away the key? I honestly don't see what that will accomplish.

I honestly don't share the same anger and resentment towards the Yates family as the author does. I do feel sorry for the children, and I agree that something should've been done earlier (isn't that always the case?) ... But i also feel sorry for Mrs. Yates. She killed her own children ... That's so wrong on so many levels. There must've been some hell of a powerful force making her do such a thing. And she needs help. I'm standing by that ...


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Celtic Daisy
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I recently had a discussion about this with my mom. After she had me and my younger brother, she was depressed for a week or so. My cousin was for almost a month and a half, and needed to stay in the hospital for quite some time.

Now, this woman, who killed her 5 kids, i'm not saying that she had a right to do that, but i'm saying that she did have problems, obviously.

She had 5 kids, all fairly young, all home schooled, her husband always worked, she was at home all the time with them, and depressed. Now, her husband called to check on them sometimes, but that doesnt' really lighten the load.

I think 5 kids, for one person, all day long, is a little too much. I think that andrea yates needs some counseling, and help. Think of how much pressure would be put on her with all that.

I think that people should be allowed to have as many children as they want, but there are those cases which make you wonder. I'm not exactly sure what my status is on reproduction rights.

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"A six foot tall anorexic bimbo,with plastic breasts is making me feel weird about my own body."
-Miss Bif Naked


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John Doe
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Sorry about starting essentially a dupicate thread above, i hadn't read this one and it wasn't clearly titled.
i see that the sympathy for her has infected this board as well. Come on isn't there anything like individual responsibility left in this country. She was perfectly able to call her husband after she did it, why not before. Part of this ties into the feminism thread that has been going on in Gender issues. It seems again like some women wnat it both ways, they want to be tough and aggressive in the board room and on the sports field, but on the other hand they just want to be seen as a bundle of hormones when it suits them. This wasn't a single act, it was five murders one after the other, systematically, including one that she had to chase around the house, terrified for his life. I don't think the govenment should be telling people who can and can not have kids. But people should be held responsible for their choices. She chose to have another kid, even after one episode of post partum depression. The fact that they were all home schooled, well only one or two were of school age, and they made the choice to home school. if she couldn't cope, why didn't she pack the oldest one off to first grade.
Imagine if the dad did this, would there be a national outpouring of sympathy and support for him, not likely. he might, if he were lucky get the chance to plead to life without parole to avoid the death penalty (this is Texas after all). She was a full grown woman, and responsible for her actions. look i've been depressed, and i have had some nasty fantisies, but I didn't carry them out, and if I did, I know i would be totally held responsible for it. So Smurf, i do blame her for it, blaming society is a total cop out. Murder is wrong on so many levels, especially murder of children, but somehow paradoxically you use this to say that she shouldn't be punished. Should we let everyone get away with murder, since there had to be some powerful force behind it. Are you saying that murderers should not go to prision? Or only particularly heinious murderers should not go to prision. Why should we have prisions at all? Should they only be for someone who is likely to commit another crime, to keep them off the streets? In that case most domestic violence murders should go unpunished. If you are desperate, you call somebody. She should have called her husband before she did it, not afterwards.

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Aria51
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Well, John, if the dad was in her shoes -- depressed, no help with four children, home-schooling, and the wife had another baby and began working again, leaving him with five children, no help, depression, and homeschooling -- I'd certainly have sympathy for him, too.

This isn't about gender. I think it's sad that this woman was so depressed, but it really shines a big ol' light on just what some mothers (and fathers, don't jump on my butt, anyone) have to go through during the day. PPD is a dangerous disorder.

I'm going to make a sweeping generalization here, based upon my own experience.

You give birth to a baby. Everyone else is overjoyed about the event, but you're sad. You don't know why you're sad. You just are. You try to give yourself a kick in the butt, make yourself realize that hey, you have a beautiful baby to take care of, s/he loves you unconditionally, you should be happy.

But you just aren't. Meanwhile, you must take care of yourself (it ain't happening.) and this baby. Perhaps the baby starts crying for no reason. You try to soothe the baby, but the baby will not be soothed. You didn't sleep the night before because the baby was crying. You haven't eaten a good meal or showered in days because you don't have any help.

One day - and this will happen to every mother - you get the ugly idea in your head to do something to harm the baby.

How do I know this? That's how my days have been for almost a year. And only since this woman's story came to light have I been offered assistance with the baby.


I haven't decided yet how this woman should be handled. Her husband, although there's no law saying he should be, is also at fault, in my honest opinion. If I were a man, and my wife was already depressed after four children, I'd hire a nanny, grandmother, anyone to help her out. And I surely wouldn't have any more children anytime soon.

Hopefully what we will learn from this tragedy is to lend a hand to our friends and loved ones when they have their hands full.

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Out of my Head.


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Celtic Daisy
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Aria51,
You just reminded me of another good point my mother made. She also said, that although no one EVER wants to admit this, she, and most likely every single women, has had an urge to harm their child, but most women would never tell anyone that.

Thanks for bringing that point, which i think is very important in this discussion, into light.

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"A six foot tall anorexic bimbo,with plastic breasts is making me feel weird about my own body."
-Miss Bif Naked


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John Doe
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Wait a minute, every mother sometimes thinks that she should hrt her baby. And yet mothers are presumed to be the superior parent, and because of this assumption they are overwhelmingly given custody of the kids. The great odd are that if they were going through a divorce, he would be the one that would be required to move out of the house, even though she had a history of mental instability. Yes it is about gender. If a man had killed his kids, he would be branded a monster and there would be absolutely no sympathy for him, a woman does it and out come the crocodile tears for her.
yes being around kids can be stressful, so can going to work. Does that excuse people for going postal? Didn't the dad come home in the evenings? didn't her occasionally get up in the middle of the night. i know i sure did. You make it sound like the dad had the sole discretion on having another baby. But ultimately it is the woman who has the legal right to decide to have another kid or not. if she was feeling so overwhelmed, why didn't she at least send the school age ones to school rather than home school them, it sure beats the heck out of drowning them in the bath tub, even if the neighborhood schools are not the best. If the baby was crying, why did she methodically murder all of the rest of the kids.
if you have been getting depressed, well see a shrink, get some prozac, deal with it, don't kill your kids.

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Celtic Daisy
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Yes, everyone mother can think to hurt her baby, that doesn't mean she will act on it, and it's not a constant thought through the whole of her childs life. After having a child, and then being pushed out into the world with it, not quite knowing what to do(as my cousin said), you're gonna be a little scared and have unnatural feelings. No one ever said that this means the mother loves her child less, and no one said she WILL hurt her child.

It's true, there are lots of double standards when it comes to parenting and many other things, but that's another issue alltogether.

This type of depression is not known as "a history of mental insability" considering millions upon millions of women have it.

When you talk about if the father had done the crime, it's different. You have to look at the mental states. She had a depression, and it really wasn't wise to continue to have children, and she really should have been watched more carefully.

I'm not trying to make up exscuses for her, i'm saying that she has psychotic problems. There is no exscuse for what she did. She shouldn't just be allowed to walk out. She should be most likely, put in jail, but with psychiatric help.

Yes, i'm sure the dad helped out and i'm sure he was trying to be there for her and his children, but she was the one who spent the majority of the time. Also, another thing to remember, is sometimes you don't chose to have another child, it just happens. I'm not saying that was the case here, because i really don't know, but that is true.

Here's a question i would like to ask:
For people who have or are currently suffering for depression, how long did it take others to recognize that you were, and how long was it before you got help?

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...Everybody knows what a store-bought sweater looks like. But man, when you see a home-knitter on the street, it's obvoius, you know?"
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alaska
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John, I think you might want to review your tone here. It comes across as highly insulting when you say something like "get some prozac" when a user here has just said that she herself experienced depression after giving birth and that it shouldn't be underestimated.
Your tone is patronizing and rude and insulting, and it would be nice and much appreciated if you changed it.

Thank you.

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Caro
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"Through repetition the magic will be forced to rise."
Alchemical Precept


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Confused boy
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There is a school of extreme left wing thought (I dont belong to it, though I can understand why it makes sense to some people) that giving parents such a pivotal role in a childs developement is dangerous. Instead children are collectivised and looked after by trained professionals who can be relied upon.

Its a sort of glorified and standardised adoption and school system. Of course, it has been shown that in similiar systems, child abuse can still take place as potential child molestors might take up jobs at these places so there still must be vigilance of these professional parents.

It does seem to work on a small scale in practice when the real parents are not far away from their children anyway. They still meet them and socialise with them, the children are just not looked after by them. It is similiar to the idea of having instead of a small family unit, a larger tribal type unit in which there are people who look after the chidren in place of the real parents.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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Heather
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As a trivia note, in ancient Celtic socities, fostering was a very profound and important practice.

Basically, each child would have a fostter family in addition to the birth parents, a bit like the current practice of having godparents today, save that this wasn't saved for emergencies, it was daily.

I'm all for having larger support netwroks. The thing about a case like this is that it is a tragic, but potent, reminder that depression really can be a killer, simply because people who are profoundly depressed generally DO NOT have the perspective or the awareness to go out and seek help. They are too deep in it. That certainly does not excuse anything, and I don't believe anyone is saying that it is, but in my mind, it does remind us that becoming very insular isn't a very hot idea, especially when there are children involved. Support systems are really, really key. These sorts of things really don't tend to happen in cultures which are more tribal, or in which there are more extended families.

And I'd have to say that in truth, one aspect of pre-natal care should be being aware if a mother previously has haad every severe depression or other issues. That would make her a patentient to keep an eye on, follow up on, and also one who perhaps you'd want to be sure truly wanted more children.

On the other hand, our new administration in the States wouldn't support that sort of alternative at all.

(And let's do, please, watch our tone.)

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
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John Doe
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Yes, I appologize, I was a bit short with my tone. However, if you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed the thing to do is to go get help. qutie frankly going to a shrink and being perscribed prozac (or zyloft or paxil) are constructive steps to dealing with the problem, rather than letting it fester until something awful happens. If you have a problem, and depression is a serious problem, take steps to solve the problem. Another step you can take is to get some more exercize. Do it while the baby is sleeping, or when the husband gets home at night and can look after them. As for my self, when I started to suffer from depression, it took me about 2 weeks to see it in myself and go to the doctor to get some prozac.
Yes I think that while she is in prison she should be getting psychiatric help. But honestly I really doubt that she passes the insantiy test. Would she have done this if there was a policeman at her side? Did she not know right from wrong at the time she did it? Temporary insanity is just too convientient a defense.
Government control of who can reproduce is not the answer, holding people accountable for their actions is.

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Dzuunmod
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This is an article coming out against society's reaction to this killing, as well. Susan Kushner Resnick of Salon wrote that "No sane person would (want to kill her children)" (my italics), and as Mark Steyn points out in the article I've linked to, that argument amounts to a decriminalizing of the actions of parents who kill their kids.

He also notes that maybe it wasn't such a great idea for the father to leave these kids alone with their mother all the time, seeing as she was on Haldol, a strong anti-psychotic drug.

I agree with John when he says that this is about gender. The killing itself has nothing to do with gender of course, but what happens after it, does. The debate that should be taking place (what should happen to this woman, now that she's killed her five children) has been trumped by a debate on the difficulties of modern motherhood, and I think that's not right.

Now, if this had happened in Europe, where the main focus of the justice system is rehabilitation, rather than vengeance, I could understand the reaction that's occurred. However, seeing as this is in Texas, I don't understand why Ms. Yates' lawyer should be so optimistic about the future of his client!

Keep in mind that we're talking about the same place that can't decide whether or not it's right to put murderers who happen to be mentally disabled, to death. Seems like a dose of everyday life as the root cause for five murders in this state then, should really be an open and shut case for the supporters of the death penalty. (And keep in mind that I'm not supporting the death penalty here, I'm just saying that when it's applied, it ought to be evenly applied...)

Seems like if Ms. Yates was male (imagine if she were a black male!), in Texas, and found to have killed her five children, her outlook would not be quite so rosy.

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"...we're all thinking the same thing/let's not settle for satisfaction/we are women and men of action/let's stop clapping let's start doing/a dream for the teens and in-betweens and twenties yet unseen"
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LilBlueSmurf
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What are you suggesting they do, John? All you say is hold her accountable for her actions. While she wasn't really in the right state of mind to fully understand what her actions were.

Support systems are extremely important and this woman just didn't have it. I can't tell you why she choose to do some of the things she did, such as home schooling, but Heather makes a good point in saying that getting help when you're that far into depression is extremely hard, if not outright impossible.

And yes, in the end, it really is the woman who gets to keep the baby or abort it or put it up for adoption, whatever she sees fit. But why let it get that far? There's always our friend the condom. And hey, if he's really that serious about it, he can get a vasectomy. That way, she won't get pregnant and there will be NO decisions in keeping the baby or getting rid of it. Now this would be a man taking responsibility for his actions ... instead of making his obviously mentally ill (rules out any kind of homrones)wife do it (which she wasn't, and this resulted in five kids).

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When mom found my diaphram, I told her it was a bathing cap for my cat.
~ Liz Winston

In a Smurf's world ...


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LilBlueSmurf
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And ... to answer Celtic Daisy's question ...

I've pretty much been depressed all my life. That's 17 years and counting ... It took 16 of those years for things to finally boil over (at the death of my grandfather), and by then i had already attempted suicide once and was a full time SI'er. I was put in the hospital for 10 days and have been recieving therapy and meds (prozac) for about a year and a half now.

I knew i was sick ... I knew i could get better, i just didn't do anything about it. I was in denial. I was forced into it by my mother, b/c being under the age of 18, there wasn't a heck of a lot i could do. Who's going to force this woman into treatment? Should we be able to? Until now, she hadn't done anything to prove she was an unfit mother. But now it's too late isn't it?


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John Doe
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She didn't have any support systems? she had a husband, she had neighbors, didn't she have any friends? Relatives she could call on the phone?
Why a condom as opposed to going on the pill? Why a vasectomy instead of a histerectomy? Yes her husband probably bears some responsibility, but his contribution to this tradgedy is much much less than hers.
If she wants to go for a temporary insanity defense, that is her legal right. However, she has a very high burden to prove beyond a resonable doubt that she was unable to understand what her actions were. In an insanity defense, the burden of proof shifts away from the prosecution and to the defendant. Now for a series of acts that probably took over an hour to commit, I think it would be very hard for her lawyer to prove to me beyond a reasonable doubt that she did not know what she was doing. If she is unable to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, she should get what other murders get in texas, either life without parole, or the needle.

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Heather
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I don't see that anyone here suggested she should not be incarcerated. What I did see was folks say she should also recieve psychiatric treatment when incarcerated.

And I saw a lot of discussion about how things like this can potentially be avoided.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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alaska
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Having a husband doesn't necessarily mean that you have a support system, John. Unfortunately. And a vasectomy is, well, little (snip, snip, out of the office) compared to a hysterectomy (big & with hospital stay). But hey, I am nitpicking here.

Thanks for that article, Dzum.

I personally am not sure what my stand on all this is in all details, but yes, the outpouring of compassion in Texas of all places as struck me as odd, too. I think Dzum is right, if this was an african american dad, the reaction would have been quite different.

Let's be realistic here, Angela Yates will get life in prison at the least, temporary insanity or not. And that's good. She drowned her five kids. And I don't even want to know how exactly she did this, so outrageous is her crime.

I wonder though, really, where her husband was in all of this. I mean, you can't live with someone and not notice that someone is as sick as she must have been. How can you go along and decide as a couple (if they decided at all, I read over here that their religious convictions didn't allow birth control, is that correct?) to have more kids once someone has gone down with severe post partum depression already?

It all just doesn't make much sense to me, and can't help but wonder whether her husband is so understanding because being shocked by this and angry at her would mean that he would have to face his own shortcomings in regards to his family.

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Caro
~spanking new Scarleteen Sexpert~

"Through repetition the magic will be forced to rise."
Alchemical Precept

[This message has been edited by Alaska (edited 07-13-2001).]


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towel42
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Well, pretty much everything has been said. But I'm gonna say it again anyway, because I'm a big loser like that.

I partially agree with a little of everything that's been said, as well as bits and pieces of the original article. I think Heather summed it up the best.

On one hand, the woman was suffering from severe depression, and I can personally attest to how horrible it can feel, like you're at the bottom of a lake in winter, with the surface frozen over, if you'll excuse the verbal cliche. But on the other hand, murder is murder is murder is murder and there is nothing you can say or do to excuse that. Like John said, it wasn't just an act of sudden aggression, it was five, one after the other.

Certainly, the woman should be jailed, but she should also be counciled, like Heather said. I think this whole thing should be a wake-up call, especially for new or expectant mothers. We really have to look out for eachother in times like this. If you know any mothers-to-be, keep an eye on them, especially after the birth. Watch for signs of serious depression, or else we could see repeats of this event.

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Laughs_Wisely
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"For people who have or are currently suffering for depression, how long did it take others to recognize that you were, and how long was it before you got help?"

My mother suffered from post-partum depression. She went through it for 11 years. She took Prozac. She had a personal psychiatrist. She had therapy sessions that were so off the wall I still can't believe people thought they would work. Nothing did, until she was diagnosed hyperthyroid when I was 13.

It's horrifying to be 8 years old and see your mother, previously reading the paper, suddenly burst into tears.

It's worse when, 10 years later, sitting in your room with a knife, you realise exactly how she felt.

I had been depressed for 3 months before my mother caught my climb-crash problems and forced me to visit the doctor. I was diagnosed with low-grade hypothyroidism, which can cause depression. I am now medicated and stable (3 years later). My mother is also stable, though she had to drink radioactive iodine to eradicate her thyroid gland.

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Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
( Tr. "I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head." )


Posts: 140 | From: Saskatoon, SK, Canada | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Loneliestnumber
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I've heard more than one person talk about this cause, from forums to mailing lists to real-life conversations. I'm still not thoroughly sure about the particulars on the case so forgive me if I say something wrong. I just want to toss in my 2 cents and, if I bring up points that have already been covered or that you do not like, you are free to skip this post.
Many have raised the point that, if Andrea Yates was so depressed, why didn't she do something? Until recently, Post Partum Depression (PPD) was not really recognized as a serious condition by the medical community. If I'm correct (I may not be but eh well), PPD only started to garner attention in the late 50's but was still not widely known.
It's hard for anyone, much less someone suffering from PPD, to be able to admit that they are depressed and cannot get out of it. It's admitting you have no control over this emotion and that thoroughly frightens most people. People will go on for years with depression, unwilling to notice or admit that they are truely sick because they feel, somehow, it is their fault and they should be able to pull themselves out of it.
Perhaps this was the case with Angela Yates. Maybe she thought that these were merely temporary feelings or maybe she saw it as just something wrong with herself and not something caused by hormones.
However, one wonders about the husband in this situation. Didn't he notice the change in his wife's mood? What about relatives, particularly her own mother or such?
I still do not think Angela Yates should be let off of the charges. I just don't agree that she should have to face the death penalty. Her needs would be best served in an institution where she could gotten the help

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Posts: 38 | From: Somerset, KY, USA | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Daisyluv
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I have to agree with John here and thats because when I first moved out on my own my room-mate and I were babysitting these two adorable girls. After a couple days they were pretty much living with us cause mom couldn't fit them into her life, and would just (hate to say this) pawn them off on other people. Their house was a mess and the girls were not taken care of properly at home. and it took weeks for child services to get invovled for whatever reasons. I mean we(my room-mate and I)potty-trained the oldest who was 3 1/2 years old, and cared for the youngest when she developed chicken poxs.

My point is because it took time to get concret evidence to prove that their mother wasn't a good caregiver what could have happened to this two girls? well anything really and I wouldn't have wanted to hear about the death of two girls who had just started life.

thats the case in the death of those 5 children. yes their mother had a diease that wasn't properly noticed by those around her, and of course we don;t know all the reason behind this situation because we were not involved

But its also important to point out that 5 children are now dead because other people for whatever reasons either couldn't or wouldn't get involved. And to be perfectly honest I think that it wouldv;e made all the difference for someone to ask if she wanted some help - even if it was just to say do the laundry - it shows that you care.

(\_/)
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[This message has been edited by Daisyluv (edited 07-17-2001).]


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Celtic Daisy
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Well, it's months later and Andrea Yates has gone to trial. A jury found her guilty and recommended life in prison.

Do you think this is a fair sentence? Do you think she got what she deserved?

Personally, i don't agree with the sentence. Docters and experts said this was one of the worst cases of post-partum depression they'd ever seen. She's been diagnosed with post-partum depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, as well as being psychotically delusional when she killed her children. She just barely escaped a lethal injection recommendation.

I can't understand this. Really, i think the last thing she needs is life in prison. She obviously is in need of serious care and i don't think that prison is where she's going to get it.

In Europe( i don't know if all of europe, cause i forget exactly where) if a woman kills her child before it's a year old they don't convict her of murder because they recognise that post-partum depression is such a serious problem.

So what do you think?

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Aria51
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I agree with you completely, Celtic.

I think she should have been placed in a state mental health facility for treatment and (possibly) rehabilitation. My mother works in such a facility, and has many clients just like Andrea Yates -- clients who commit murder without really realizing what they have done until years after the event takes place.

And I wish more places in the world would recognize post-partum depression as a serious and legitimate mental disorder. People tend to tell those who suffer from it to "just cheer up and get over it", but would they say the same to someone who is schizophrenic or manic-depressive? Of course not; because they *understand* those illnesses.

This whole affair just saddens me -- because those children died, and because the general public is so ignorant to the mother's real problem.


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emsily0
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just a clarification: andrea yates did not "just barely" escape a recommendation for the death penalty. various accounts of the hearing indicate that the prosecution rather halfheartedly pushed for the death penalty, as in this article from the new york times it says that
"during closing statements today, one prosecutor, Joe Owmby, never asked jurors for a death sentence and almost seemed to be steering them to vote for life."

furthermore, the other prosecutor, while asking for the death penalty, said to the jury that ""Whatever decision you make, the state will accept."" in addition, the prosecution did not present any new witnesses or evidence in the sentencing hearings.

also, the jury took only 35 minutes to decide to recommend a life sentence. they found that andrea yates poses no future danger, and that therefore is not eligible for the death penalty.

i know that it's really easy to say things like "texas is trigger-happy with the deal penalty" and whatnot, and ok, they are sometimes, but i think we should try to be a little more case-specific.

em

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Beppie
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Okay, I'm going to have to play devil's advocate here.

I don't think that just because you believe that Yates should be punishable under the law, doesn't mean you don't think that post-partum depression is a serious issue. Of course it is, and of course this gives us a great opportunity to look at how we can, as a society, improve that situation.

However, I don't think that negates Yates's responsibility for the deaths of her children. She didn't even just kill one of them in a fit of passion, she methodically drowned them all, knowing full well what she was doing. She then phoned her husband and 911- so this is clearly not one of those cases where someone has committed a murder and then does not realise what they've done until years afterwards.

I guess I would say that I support the sentencing, although maybe not the prison system itself in its current incarnation. I'm not sure what the situation is in Texas, but its my opinion that treatment of her psychiatric condition should be counted as the treatment of any medical condition. With the prison system as I imagine it is, this probably means serving some, if not all of her sentence in a psychiatric ward- but I still think she should serve the sentence, and that the conviction was a fair one.


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BruinDan
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I'm right-on with Beppie on this one. I think that the prosecution was right not to push for the death penalty in this case, and I concur that her being found guilty of murder is not tantamount to negating the fact that PPD is a serious problem.

Essentially it all boiled down to a question of which was a more serious issue, post-partum depression, or the systematic chasing down and drowning of five of her children. Running through the house in pursuit of a 7-year old boy who knows he will be killed if his mother catches him (after witnessing the death of one of his brothers) is to me a sign of something pretty horrendous.

Again, this is not to say that post-partum depression isn't a serious medical problem. While I have no personal experience with it, I have heard from people who did suffer from it, who informed me that they suffered bouts of intense depression and even thought of suicide. That seems to me to be a very serious problem requiring very serious medical attention. Murder, however, is not the way to go about this.

Yates will receive psychiatric treatment and medication while she is imprisoned. This isn't a case of "lock her up and toss the key," rather this is a case where she will be kept apart from the outside world and given treatment as part of her punishment. With that being the case, I'm supportive of the jury's decision, and I hope something this awful never has to happen again.

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Aria51
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quote:
Originally posted by BruinDan:
I concur that her being found guilty of murder is not tantamount to negating the fact that PPD is a serious problem.


I don't recall anyone in this thread saying that.


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Beppie
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Yes, but there has been some discussion of the fact that PPD is not taken seriously by some people. I believe that Danny (as well as myself) simply wanted to make sure that, even though he thought a murder conviction is appropriate, he isn't dismissing the seriousness of PPD out of hand.
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Celtic Daisy
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To emsily,
sorry, i was going by what my paper said, not quoted, just a rough remembering. Sorry.

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Confused boy
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I think such a horrific event was not caused by PPD. She must have been psychotic (or whatever the technical term is) as well to actually seek out her children in order to kill them. Of course, that is yet more reason not to have the death penalty. But then again, I am completely against all executions for whatever crime pretty much...

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Maharet
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After all that, I'm not actually sure how long she got (40yrs??). What I think needs pointing out is that she will be brutalised in jail by other prisoners and probably guards too. I will be quite surprised if she actually lives out her sentence. They can't keep her in protection/isolation forever.

Another point, when you're suffering from suicidal or serious depression. Most people are aware that there is a problem, and everyone around them is aware too, perhaps not of the seriousness of it.
It is simply that the person doens't want to admit it. People say, "you should see someone", but if you're down that deep, then most of the time you have to be dragged to that "someone". You need a person who is prepared to help you, professional or not, because most of the time you're incapable of helping yourself.
This of course in no way condones what she did, just that it's not as simple as "you have problem, you deal with it".

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Dzuunmod
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I suppose the thing that bothers me about all of this is that hundreds of men die as a result of capital punishment in the United States every year, but it's always the one or two women's cases that prompt the outcry.

It seems as though the authorities (who are, I recognize, mostly men) are much quicker to suggest that women aren't criminally responsible for their actions, where men are.

Here are two reports (one and two) that detail the executions of mentally ill prisoners. I think all of the cases are from the United States, and several are from Texas. I don't see any names on those lists that are probably belonging to women -- a handful are ambiguous, but none are clear. The cast majority are almost certainly mens' names.

A recommendation from the United Nations suggests "eliminating the death penalty for persons suffering from mental retardation or extremely limited mental competence, whether at the stage of sentence or execution".

Now, knowing that the U.S. doesn't listen to the U.N. here, and knowing that Texas likes to kill people who so obviously aren't responsible for their actions, I'd say that perhaps, in the warped world of Texas (and American) justice, Andrea Yates clearly deserved the death penalty.

Men are often put to death in the United States when few other countries in the Western world would likely even put them in jail (a hospital is far more likely in many places). I don't know of any cases, except, arguably, this one) where this is so, for a woman.

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[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 03-19-2002).]


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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Dzuunmod:
Now, knowing that the U.S. doesn't listen to the U.N. here, and knowing that Texas likes to kill people who so obviously aren't responsible for their actions, I'd say that perhaps, in the warped world of Texas (and American) justice...

A lot of what I've read in the past two posts is interesting, because it comes from people who are not American, do not live under the American system, and do not have the intimate familiarity of dealing with the American system of crime and punishment.

There's no guarantee that our justice system is any better or any worse than the system of any other country...but I would tend to think that what we have now at least works for us. Someone has to stand up for it, I guess I'll be that person.

Just for information only, several states do have moratoriums on the death penalty, and four more (including Illinois) have recently added themselves to that list. There are bills floating through the US House of Representatives and through the legislatures of 33 states (incuding Texas and California) which are attempting to ban the use of the death penalty on persons who are deemed mentally insane. I know that it's chic and easy to pick on Texas and call them trigger-happy, but let's not get carried away while they are at least attempting to improve their system.

In terms of men being put to death in the US for crimes that wouldn't even garner jail time in other Western countries, I don't even know where to begin. The US Department of Justice reports that the vast majority of executions are carried out upon murderers, some of whom have been convicted of dozens of slayings. If such crimes would not garner jail time in other Western countries, that may work for them...but that isn't the way we do business out here. We could go around in circles about who has the best justice system, but that really isn't the intent of this thread, so it would probably be best if we just shelved that argument for now.

I agree that the Yates case seems to have garnered tons of publicity, but I think it has more to do with the fact that the murderer was the victims' mother, rather than just because she was female. Society seems fascinated by mothers who kill their young, far more interested than they are when fathers commit the same crime. A case in point occurred out here in SoCal last month, when a father killed four of his five children by bringing a smoldering barbecue into his home while the family was asleep. The case was mentioned once on the news and never again.

I must admit I have wondered why it seems that we are so fascinated by cases of "maternity gone bad." It captivates our society unlike many other crimes, and results in punishments that are typically a far cry from what men would receive.

Why do you think this is? Do you think this is because juries take pity on mothers more so than they would on men who kill? Or is it possibly more sinister? Could it be more of a patronizing attitude towards women, where the line of thinking is that "she's just a woman who knows not what she does"?

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