Texas lawmakers weigh changes to protect families wrongly accused of child abuse

NBC News

By Mike Hixenbaugh, Keri Blakinger and Cayla Harris
Photo: Elizabeth Conley / Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN, Texas 

Ann Marie Timmerman still chokes up when she talks about the moment a Child Protective Services investigator showed up to take custody of her baby, but she tried to remain composed Tuesday as she stepped up to a lectern and described her ordeal to state lawmakers.

In 2016, she'd rushed her lethargic 4-month-old son to a Houston hospital, where she learned he had suffered a small amount of bleeding around his brain. A child abuse pediatrician told Child Protective Services, or CPS, that the injury could only have been the result of child abuse.

Based on that opinion alone — and without considering a report from a pediatric neurosurgeon who disagreed, saying the injury was probably the result of childbirth — CPS took emergency custody of the baby, records show.

"I stand in front of y'all a mother that suffered the great trauma of having her medically fragile infant ripped from her arms, all because of a single doctor's opinion," Timmerman told members of the Texas House of Representatives committee that oversees the state's child welfare system.

Publish : 2021-03-31 12:14:00

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