Texas Governor Signs New Law Aiming to Protecting Parents From False Allegations of Child Abuse

By Cassandra Fairbanks

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a new law that requires family courts to consider additional medical opinions before removing children from their homes in cases of suspected of child abuse.

The law is a response to an in-depth 2019 investigation by NBC and the Houston Chronicle that looked into mistaken child abuse reports made by doctors.

The joint investigation by the news outlets took nine months and found that sometimes doctors can mistake accidental injuries for abuse.

In one particularly shocking example, an ER doctor was charged with abusing his adopted baby, despite fifteen medical experts testifying that there was no proof of this. He maintains that he had accidentally fallen asleep and must have rolled over on the baby. The one-month old was not smothered, but did sustain minor injuries.

Unfortunately, this tragic scenario and outcome have played out in many families over the years, especially with the rise of co-sleeping. Often, these incidents are fatal.

Panicked that he had possibly broken one of the baby’s bones, even though she did not appear to be in distress, he video called his wife who is a pediatric oncologist. She thought the baby seemed okay, but advised him to get her checked out anyways, just to be safe. “That’s what normal parents who aren’t doctors would do,” she told him.

Sadly, this is when their real trouble began.

“A nurse practitioner on the hospital’s child abuse team confused the baby’s birthmarks for bruises, according to seven dermatologists who have reviewed the case. A child abuse pediatrician misinterpreted a crucial blood test, four hematologists later said. Then, two weeks after the incident, armed with those disputed medical reports, Child Protective Services took the child,” the report explains.

Felony abuse charges were filed against the father, who by all accounts, is a loving and gentle man.

Under the new law, parents and caretakers accused of abuse in medical reports can request another opinion from a doctor with experience relevant to a child’s injuries. The second opinion will be taken into account by the judge before a child is handed over to CPS.

Prior to making it to the governor’s desk, the bill had bipartisan support from state representatives.

“False removals are traumatic for kids first and foremost, but also for their parents,” Texas state Rep. James Frank (R) said, according to a report from The Hill. “So we have to be more precise in the way we go through the removal process. I think sometimes when an expert in a white suit says something, there’s a tendency for CPS to go, ‘They’re 100 percent right.’ But that’s not always the case.”

Likewise, Texas state Rep. Gene Wu (D), a lawyer who works with CPS cases, said that he supports the bill because there is a delicate balance in these cases.

“If you tip it too far on one side, then you will have kids who are returning to families that are abusing them, and if you tip it too far the other way, then you have families that are having their kids stripped away because of a medical mistake,” he explained.

The new law goes into effect in September.

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8 responses to “Texas Governor Signs New Law Aiming to Protecting Parents From False Allegations of Child Abuse”

  1. PatchyThePirate says:

    I am a medical expert working in the field of child maltreatment, in Texas, so I thought I’d share my thoughts. I read the medical reports, I treat the kids (and sometimes the parents), I work with CPS, I sit in the meetings where the abuse evidence is discussed, and I review the reports of child abuse-related deaths. The original article that triggered this law was a bizarrely one-sided hit piece seemingly aimed at child maltreatment physicians, which is absurd. Can people make mistakes? Of course. Is this a common issue, or one that would make the top 10 issues in child maltreatment? Not at all. The primary issue is the inconsistency and inefficiency of CPS, where the outcome of any particular case can vary widely depending on the subjective whims of CPS case workers. CPS often makes the right calls in tough situations, but they also, way too often, either do too much, or don’t do enough. And in both cases, kids suffer tremendously (a common example: CPS ignores initial reports of abuse, then a year later step dad starts raping the other children as well). Even appealing to CPS supervisors is hit or miss (mostly seems to be a miss). Given how flawed and subjective CPS is, I suppose a second opinion appeal option is necessary (although it will strain an already overwhelmed system, and should not be an automatic default).

  2. Zeknix says:

    I think the initial assumption should be that CPS is completely full of shit.

  3. Feddy_Von_Wigglestein says:

    So sounds like you need to lay off Tim a bit and assign some blame to the other guy.

  4. Feddy_Von_Wigglestein says:

    I’m sure Anthony fauxci will come forward against this law and vouch for the idiot practitioner that caused this whole ordeal. ScIeNcE

  5. 51773 says:

    “Drama” does not excuse founders of their promises to investors and definitely does not excuse complete radio silence besides saying you’re remaining “editorially independent”

  6. Dozeji says:

    As far as I know, SCNR has fallen apart due to the recent drama between Tim and Rocco… who claimed to have dirt on Tim, but so far I have not seen him release anything. Oh and also the cat drama

  7. 51773 says:

    This is really good reporting, it would be great if Tim pool kept the promises he made in the launch video of the record breaking SCNR / Subverse wefunder and delivered this kind of reporting there as well. Maybe then all those investors wouldn’t feel like they were lied to.

  8. ZedS says:

    Still not enough. People who lie or misinform government agencies, like CPS, because they’re ignorant or malicious should be penalized. Temper the rush to judgment on other people’s alleged bad parenting with fines for giving false or grossly inaccurate information or a depiction of events should be a fine-able offense. That’s a bare minimum in these cases, because individuals, families and communities all suffer long term harm from busybodies and gossips that suffer no penalties when they falsely accuse people of such things as abuse.

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