The Gazette (Montreal)

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Schnurmacher exploits Yates tragedy

Letter to the Editor
Montreal Gazette

Post-partum depression with psychosis occurs because of the huge drop in hormones in some women after pregnancy. It is as much a female disease as prostate cancer is a male disease. It would be ridiculous to argue that prostate-cancer research - which benefits only men - discriminates against women.

Yet, twice, Tommy Schnurmacher exploits the brutal drowning of the five Yates children (induced by an extreme, rare and poorly understood female psychosis) to prove what he perceives as women's preferential treatment under the law (Column, Feb. 24, "Women are getting away with murder"; March 3, "Gender bigotry permeates judicial system"). He then hauls out several judicial cases from the U.S. to further advance his personal agenda: gender bias against males.

The issue is psychiatric illness and its sometimes horrific consequences, not gender. Better that the Andrea Yates trial be a catalyst for research and public education. Whether a patient's illness leads to suffering, suicide or violence, to draw battle lines between men and women is entirely inappropriate.

Mr. Schnurmacher pulled up data about depression in men and then cited only those statistics that bolstered his own opinions. If he were truly sincere about helping the mentally ill and their families, he could just as easily have learned more about depression, psychosis and schizophrenia in both sexes.

Then he could have become more proactive, perhaps even interviewing professionals and patients. To prevent such tragedies from occurring here, he could offer solutions to the psychiatric crisis in the Montreal area.

E. Irving-Waddleton

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