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  NOW Helps Mom Charged in Drownings

By Pam Easton
Associated Press Writer
Monday, Aug. 27, 2001; 4:12 p.m. EDT

HOUSTON –– The National Organization for Women and other groups said Monday they are helping to raise money to defend Andrea Yates – the mother accused of drowning her five children in the bathtub – in part to help other women suffering from postpartum depression.

"It gives us a platform for something that obviously needs education," said Deborah Bell, president of Texas NOW. "One of our feminist beliefs is to be there for other women. Some good may come out of this tragedy."

The groups also oppose the death penalty for Yates, saying her depression should be taken into account in any punishment.

Yates, 37, called police on June 20 and admitted drowning her children in the tub. Her husband, Russell Yates, told police his wife was depressed and had been treated for postpartum depression. She is under suicide watch in a jail psychiatric unit.

NOW was joined on Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union, other women's and health groups and several anti-death penalty organizations.

"Addressing violence with more violence creates more suffering, grief and victims," said Gary Norman of the Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation. "Let us end this suffering and treat Mrs. Yates' illness and not allow ourselves to continue the perpetuation of pain."

Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal has said he will seek the death penalty.

NOW and the other groups in the Andrea Pia Yates Support Coalition plan a candlelight vigil on Sept. 11, a day before a hearing is scheduled to determine if Yates is fit to stand trial.

The defense fund was previously established by Yates' lawyers, but they cannot publicize it because of a court-imposed gag order.

Any money raised on Yates' behalf but not needed for her defense will go to groups working to educate and help others suffering from postpartum depression, coalition members said.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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