Democratic Underground

Barefoot and Pregnant
June 30, 2001

They were the perfect couple from the point of view of the Christian right. He had been a football star, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She had decided to quit her nursing job to stay home with the children. They opted to home school so that they could promote their values to them. The home was filled with religious artifacts and the children were even given Biblical names. Noah, John, Paul, Luke and Mary. The father coached one of the neighborhood T-ball teams and had his players pray before and after games and practice.

They are the Yates family of Houston, TX. You might have read about them.

They were married in 1993 and Andrea Yates had five children in seven years. During those years she also bore much of the responsibility of caring for a father who suffered from Alzheimers disease. In 1999 Andrea attempted suicide by swallowing pills that had been prescribed for her father. And still the children kept coming. And one day last week she drowned her children, all of them, laying each one on the bed after she killed them and then chasing down the oldest before drowning him and leaving him in the tub. She then called the police and her husband to tell them what she had done.

We can all be absolutely horrified at what Andrea Yates did. But if we are going to place blame in this case, surely Russell (Rusty) Yates, the Christian Athlete, the NASA computer guru, the man who prayed with his T-ballers, deserves his share.

When he arrived at his house after the killings the officer who had interviewed his wife asked if he wanted a glass of water. Yates calmly responded that that would be nice but he didn’t think that there was a clean glass in the house. Huh? His wife was so deeply and tragically depressed that she couldn’t even keep a clean glass in a house where his five children lived? And he had no clue that things were seriously wrong?

Did it ever occur to this idiot that maybe the pressures converging on his wife were overwhelming her? Did it ever occur to him to get her some help with the housework or maybe send the kids to school so she wouldn’t have the added burden of trying to educate one while changing the others diapers?

Why wasn’t Mrs. Yates in therapy? She was apparently being treated by a family doctor with psychotropic drugs. Shouldn’t she have been in counseling or didn’t the family believe in that? Shortly before killing the children she was taken off the powerful anti-psychotic drug Haldol.

And while we’re at it did the expression “birth control” ever enter Mr. Yates pickled, Bible-thumping mind? After a suicide attempt and two years of medication for depression he knocked his wife up again, aggravating her already dangerous psychological condition. Now a news report indicates that she may yet be pregnant again.

Much of this goes back to the view of women that affects a large portion of the Christian right. Females are there to breed, keep house and take care of the kids and the breadwinner. Their concerns and emotions are trivial. Read a little scripture and you’ll feel better, honey. Andrea Yates should go to prison or a facility for the criminally insane but her religious athlete of a husband whose probably going to write a book and hit the talk show circuit should be going with her.

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