The National Review

August 28, 2001 9:50 a.m.

NOW Makes It Official

Defending Andrea Yates.

By Kathryn Jean Lopez, NRO Executive Editor
The National Review

For decades nearly everyone has played along in the semantics game. The Feminist Left is "pro-choice." Feminists have long claimed they are not so much pro-abortion as they are advocates of a woman's right to choose. Safe, legal, and rare. Yada, yada, yada.

Choose what, again? Oh, yes: to kill her baby. But we don't focus on that.

Until now, when NOW's Houston branch decided to form a support group for Andrea Yates, the woman who murdered her out-of-womb children on June 20. It's hard to spin this one (although they try). Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and Mary, 6 months, all were drowned by their 37-year-old mother in the family bathtub.

While she has confessed to killing her kids, Yates is currently pleading not guilty to capital-murder charges, claiming insanity.

Maybe the National Organization for Women should join the insanity plea — along with left-wing groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, who all joined the Houston branch of NOW in a pro-Yates press conference announcing the Andrea Pia Yates Support Coalition on Monday.

The coalition is encouraging people to donate to Yates's legal defense fund — much as Katie Couric did on The Today Show earlier this month. After the airing of a sympathetic taped interview by reporter Jim Cummins with Yates's mother and brother, Couric told viewers where they could send donations to Yates's legal-defense fund, with the address displayed on television screens across the nation. Couric told viewers that any money left over would be given to women's charities dealing with postpartum depression and psychosis.

At the press conference on Monday, Beatrice Mladenka Fowler of the ACLU blasted the Texas county district attorney's decision to seek the death penalty for Yates as "appalling." "Andrea Pia Yates was mentally ill," Fowler said. "It's a travesty her condition wasn't treated."

Supporters say that since Yates was depressed, having been diagnosed with postpartum depression after the birth of her fifth child, she does not deserve punishment, but pity and help.

But while no one is denying Yates was depressed and ill, is she really the victim here? Five children are dead. Could that possibly be the travesty here? Could the woman who killed them getting off possibly be even more of a travesty?

If I ran a non-profit political organization, the last thing I'd want to do is publicly defend a mother who murdered her children, making headlines as a defender of a babykiller. But then, that's what NOW has been doing all along, isn't it?