It’s interesting how in the case of Andrea Yates, society is shocked that a mother will methodically kill her own children.
In history, infanticide was very common in most of the advanced, cultured ancient societies, like those of ancient Rome, Greek, China, India, and Japan.
There is an interesting letter from a Roman citizen to his spouse, dated from around 1 BC that gives a glimpse as to how casually infanticide was viewed:
“Know that I am still in Alexandria. […] I ask and beg you to take good care of our
baby son, and as soon as I received payment I shall send it up to you. If you are
delivered [before I come home], if it is a boy, keep it, if a girl, discard it.”
– Naphtali Lewis, Life in Egypt Under Roman Rule.
Plato and Socrates both were heavy endorsers of infanticide. The logic is simple, if one has a child that one can not care for, discard it.
This is the ultimate example to me, that morality is 100% a creation of man. As Mark Twain said,
“Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity- these are strictly confined to man; he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them.”
The idea that infanticide is a immoral thing to do probably began when Rome adopted Christianity around 3 AD. Rome banned infanticide shortly before the 4th Century. Christianity is a religion that branched off from Judaism, and Judaism had traditionally viewed Infanticide as morally repugnant.
It’s also worth of note that Andrea Yates’ fundamentalist Christian church instructed / indoctrinated her to ignore her psychiatrist’s orders. Coming from a Fundie background myself, I can attest to the fact that most high control religions tend to distrust psychiatrists and psychologists. An extreme example is found in Scientology, which believes that ancient psychiatrists and psychologists conspired with an evil alien God to destroy humanity.
The reason behind this is due to the ability of mental health professional to quickly and accurately inform a patient that their high control religion is brainwashing the patient and that the environment is extremely unhealthy.
Another interesting note is her ‘logic’ behind why she killed her children is not as insane as people believe. I wrote about this previously, about the dangers of afterlife beliefs because they can make murder of the innocent a logical choice.
Here is how Yates reasoned the infanticides, in her own words:
“It was the seventh deadly sin. My children weren’t righteous. They stumbled because I
was evil. The way I was raising them they could never be saved. They were doomed to
perish in the fires of hell.”
– Andrea Yates
So it is logical for her to kill them now, before they had done any wrong, and therefore save them from Hell. Sure, she’d go to Hell herself for the murders, but she figured she was already on her way so she might as well do something ‘good’, that is, kill her children while they are still innocent, therefore sending them to Heaven. It makes a lot of sense if you believe in hellfire and heaven that is. In a way, she was being a good mother and ensuring the future of her children. She was making sure they would be happy.