Plano councilmember questions city funding for rape crisis center

A Plano city council member is questioning whether the city should continue to contribute funds to a rape crisis center, saying it violates a new Texas law about to take effect.

The new law blocks public money from going to abortion providers and their affiliates. One council member claims one service the center in Plano provides falls under that law.

The rape crisis center in Plano has given more than 30 Plan B pills since they started providing them in the fall of 2018. The deputy mayor has questioned whether the center should continue to receive city funding because they provide Plan B.

Sexual assault survivors showed up to a Plano city council meeting Monday to ask that a rape crisis center in their city not lose funding the city contributes.

It was the comments made by one councilmember at a budget work session August 1  that has them concerned.

“My conscious will not permit me to give funding to any organization that disseminates the Plan B pill,” Deputy Mayor Pro Team Anthony Ricciardelli said. “Because, in some circumstances, the Plan B pill destroys a human life.”

Ricciardelli has questioned whether the city including $57,000 in its next budget for The Turning Point violates a new Texas law.

Starting September 1, government agencies are limited in providing public money to abortion providers and their affiliates. At that same meeting, Plan City Attorney Paige Mims told the council that The Turning Point is not an abortion provider and can be funded.

“They are eligible for funding even with that law in place,” she explained.

Vanessa Baum with The Turning Point explains that Plan B, which prevents fertilization of an egg, is only given as an option to a sexual assault survivor within 72 hours of the assault and only after a negative pregnancy test.

“What we do is not in contradiction to any law,” she said. “We are in compliance with state law and federal law with how our type of clinic is supposed to operate.”

Baum says none of the funding from Plano, which makes up about four percent of their budget, is used to buy Plan B. She says all of the funding from the city is instead spent on counseling after the deputy mayor raised the same concerns last year. It’s a problem they thought had been resolved.

“It funds our counseling program,” Baum said. “We have the ability to provide healing to survivors of sexual assault.”

No council members or representatives from the city commented on the issue Monday night. They will decide whether to give the more than $57,000 in funding to The Turning Point at a budget work session on Saturday.