The Conviction of Andrea Yates: A Narrative of Denial

Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, Vol. 10: 139, (2003), pp. 141-147

8 Pages Posted: 29 May 2013 Last revised: 29 Oct 2017

Sherry F. Colb

Cornell University - Law School

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

This paper discusses the case of Andrea Yates, the woman who confessed to drowning her five children to death and was subsequently convicted of murder, (though the conviction has since been overturned). In this piece, Colb contends that Andrea Yates was convicted because of the jurors’ emotional/psychological response to the possibility that postpartum psychosis could cause an otherwise decent person to commit such brutal acts. As a symptom of denial, Colb argues, the jury rejected the insanity defense and thereby reassured itself that only evil people could do what Yates did. If that were the case, then it would be fine to continue to ignore the issue of mental illness in general and its impact on postpartum women in particular.

Keywords: Andrea Yates, conviction, postpartum, insanity, mental illness, women

Suggested Citation

Colb, Sherry F., The Conviction of Andrea Yates: A Narrative of Denial (2003). Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, Vol. 10: 139, (2003), pp. 141-147. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2271277

Sherry F. Colb (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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