"I personally don't think mental illness absolves one of personal responsibility. Nor does the criminal law; the insanity defense is a narrow category, which exculpates the defendant not merely because he's ill, but because he's deprived of volition regarding the acts in question. Which is not to say that Yates case turned out right," Brian in comments, #50, on Patterico's blog.
That is well put. Liberal Chicks and Dr. Helen have commented on the Yates case. A Catholic might wonder how this case is different from abortion; like good mathematicians we may know that the answer is "obvious." Yet still I think this question brings us to something poetic, sad regarding the Yates chidren, and perhaps correctly insightful about individual development.
"In the begining was the Word and the Word was with God." This begining of a Gospel mirrors our feeling of the begining of any human life. Life sems to begin with the impression of the mother and the child is part of the mother. In the Gita, Oppenheimer famously quoted, 'I am Vishna. I am the creator of worlds; I am the destroyer of worlds.' A patient had intrusive thoughts about harming her children, not that she wanted to carry them out. The patient had had an alcoholic mother for whom she had to cover 'because what would the neighbors think.' The therapist surmised that the patient experienced mother's attitude, shown in other ways as well, as a kind of attack on her which she was reexperiencing, as if from the other side, now that she was a mother. At the same time, mother felt intensely for the therapist; one might say that she saw the 'creator of worlds' aspect of Vishna in the therapist; so that, in sum, she was working through the anxiety or perception of both, which is what she did. And ultimately, we are released by or feel we escape from our mothers. The Yates case is an exception, but the jurors, reperesenting us, may have realized that this is not perfectly easy to do and had some sympathy for Andrea, a Vishna without knowledge.