WACO, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-lifers on Friday sought to reach “hearts and minds” in what participants told LifeSiteNews was a highly successful outreach outside a centrally located CVS Pharmacy on a busy intersection in Waco, Texas. The protest comes after CVS announced in January it would sign an agreement form with the federal government to dispense the abortion drug mifepristone from its locations.
On March 31, over a dozen demonstrators with grassroots organization Pro-Life Waco assembled outside the CVS at 601 N. Valley Mills Drive in Waco, holding up signs declaring that abortion murders innocent babies and urging pharmacies like CVS not to distribute the lethal drugs.
Signs used in the demonstration bore messages including: “Abortion is not healthcare,” “Rx for life! Not for death” and “CVS keep abortion pills out of all pharmacies.”
LifeSiteNews spoke with several of the pro-lifers who took part in the Friday gathering. They said the demonstration was a success, noting they were able to present their message to many drivers on the busy street from whom they received disproportionate gestures of support and even some donations.
“It’s in the pedigree of Pro-Life Waco to challenge businesses that align themselves with abortion,” Pro-Life Waco founding director John Pisciotta, a lifelong Catholic with four grown children and seven grandchildren, told LifeSiteNews in a phone interview Wednesday. He said the group has previously challenged major companies and organizations for their abortion support, including Central National Bank and the Girl Scouts.
“This is really unprecedented with CVS and Walgreens,” said Pisciotta, who retired from teaching economics at Baylor University in 2012. He noted that while corporations have long backed abortion, they’ve only just recently entered the business of it themselves.
“Here we have for the first time, I think, businesses saying, ‘We’re going to help do abortions. We’re going to become an abortion center,” he said.
Pisciotta told LifeSite his group’s “public square outreach” is about changing “hearts and minds” and finding chances “to bring the pro-life messages to people that didn’t expect to see it that day.”
“We’re engaging the full spectrum of our community when we’re out there,” he said.
Diana Calame, a registered nurse and one of the pro-lifers who participated in the Friday outreach, told LifeSiteNews on Wednesday that, in her view, the prescription of lethal drugs in pharmacies is a non sequitur.
“As an RN, I’ve spent a lifetime assisting people to live their best lives,” Calame said. “Every healthcare worker and establishment, such as a pharmacy, should promote health and well-being. So how does Mifepristone fit in at a pharmacy? It does not!”<
“It’s like saying, we will sell vitamins to make you feel good and also arsenic, if you would like to terminate your life,” she said. “Shame on them!”
Another pro-lifer who spoke with LifeSite on Wednesday emphasized the importance of keeping abortion in the public conversation in the post-Roe era when many pro-lifers, especially in conservative states like Texas, seem to think that abortion is no longer an issue.
“We have a situation in Texas where we have a lot of people just go, ‘oh, abortions are not legal anymore, and so it’s all over,’” said Nonie Orozco, a lifelong Catholic and father of six. “There’s no sense of urgency now.”
He said that amid relative pro-life apathy, pro-abortion advocacy groups are increasing their fundraising and finding workarounds to deal with pro-life state laws. For example, he said the Planned Parenthood facility in Waco has stopped performing abortions in compliance with Texas law but still directs abortion-seeking women to go out of state to kill their preborn babies.
“The good thing about the outreach is that we’re able to reach people and … just educate people,” he told LifeSite, adding that in his view, not many people are truly aware of the reality of chemical abortions.
Lisa Munoz, who participated in the Friday outreach in Waco and is actively involved in pro-life advocacy in her home state of New Jersey, echoed the sentiments of other demonstrators when she told LifeSite the “outreach for the CVS was actually really good” thanks to the “amazing” location, where cars packed the streets and many drivers exposed to the pro-life signs while progressing slowly through traffic or stopping at the lights.
She said she hopes the pro-life outreach helps people, including those within the corporate structure of pro-abortion companies, to have a change of heart.
“We just kind of stand in the gap for the Lord and fight the battle for life,” she said.
The March 31 gathering will be the first in a series of similar protests against the pharmacy giant after it announced it would apply for approval to dispense the abortion drug mifepristone directly from its pharmacies by becoming “certified.”
Originally approved by the FDA in 2000 and the first in a two-drug sequence considered the “gold standard” for chemical abortions, mifepristone acts as an abortifacient in early stages of pregnancy by preventing the hormone progesterone from reaching the developing baby, effectively starving him. The follow-up drug, misoprostol, induces labor so that the pregnant mother delivers the dead baby.
LifeSiteNews and other pro-life groups have long warned that the abortion-inducing drugs carry risks for mothers in addition to killing growing babies.
In a Wednesday press release, Texas Right to Life cited studies indicating “that 1 in 5 women experience an adverse event following a chemical abortion,” and that women are four times more likely to suffer complications from medication abortions than surgical abortions, requiring follow-up surgeries in 3-8% of cases.
The move by CVS to supply mifepristone came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its guidelines to allow retail pharmacies to carry the drug once they have completed a “Pharmacy Agreement Form” form.
Like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid have also stated they will fill out the agreement form, though Walgreens agreed it would not violate state laws by dispensing the drugs in 20 pro-life states after pushback.
In a press release shared with LifeSiteNews, Pro-Life Waco queried whether or not CVS will also commit to not dispense the drugs in pro-life states.
“The CVS corporate leadership team has not announced if they plan to defy Texas law and sell mifepristone pills even though virtually all abortions, including chemical abortions, are banned in Texas,” they noted.
The state’s Republican Attorney General wrote to CVS in February advising them that the distribution of abortion pills through Texas locations would run afoul of the law.
For Pro-Life Waco, however, even if CVS declines to distribute the drug in Texas, the national corporate chain still deserves to be protested for choosing to dispense the pills in any state.
“There’s a lot of ways to define victory, and one is to have CVS and Walgreens flip,” Pisciotta told LifeSite. While he said a complete reversal would be “a long shot,” he noted that putting pressure on the corporations forces them to “pay a cost” for their abortion involvement.
Moreover, he suggested, it helps send a message to other pharmacies, making them potentially less inclined to wade into the controversy when they see the backlash aimed at their competitors.