Students join national day of protest against medical abortion suppliers
Notre Dame students participated in a local demonstration Saturday, February 4 to protest the expansion of medical abortion into pharmacies. The demonstration was held on North Ironwood Drive outside CVS and Walgreens and was part of a nationwide day of protest sponsored by the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU).
“After loosening FDA restrictions, both Walgreens and CVS have pledged to begin selling the abortion pill,” explains Melanie Garcia of Hoosier Voices for Life, which helped organize the local demonstration in conjunction with PAAU. “In our protest at Walgreens and CVS in South Bend, we stood in solidarity with hundreds of pro-lifers around the country to send a clear message to Big Pharma: Pharmacies should heal, not kill. We oppose the sale of pills that kill preborn children and hurt women.”
Per the university’s community standards guide as outlined in du Lac, off-campus demonstrations may not be organized by anyone affiliated with Notre Dame—in order, in part, to “protect the health and safety of participants and the campus community.” Students, therefore, acknowledged the risk they assumed by choosing to participate in a demonstration outside the boundaries of campus.
Junior Evan Bursch, who organized Notre Dame’s attendance at the demonstration, called the decision of prominent retail pharmacy chains to provide medical abortions “both heinously irresponsible and a great moral evil.” Junior Jose Rodriguez further commented, “Not many people think twice about the policies of the stores where we shop, but for an issue as grave as abortion, we should … So long as pharmaceutical manufacturers have a financial incentive to make the pill, and so long as CVS and Walgreens provide the market to do so, the abortion issue remains aggressively prevalent.”
Although the temperature averaged just above freezing, Notre Dame students and local residents demonstrated outside CVS and Walgreens, holding signs and chanting to convey the purpose of their protest. While some onlookers expressed their opposition to the protest through unfavorable gestures, demonstrators also rallied much support from passersby in the form of thumbs-up and friendly honks.
Despite the mixed responses, demonstrators affirmed their reasons for showing up to protest. Freshman Haley Garecht asserted that the best way for “young pro-life people to show that they care about what CVS and Walgreens are doing … is to be physically present where and when it matters,” and junior Kylie Gallegos voiced her concern that abortion is “bleeding over into public life in an easily accessible way without the necessary medical warnings.”
Against the uncertainty of Indiana’s abortion ban, local pharmacy chains are not currently providing medical abortions. However, PAAU maintains the importance of boycotting these chains, regardless of their locations. Since “money is fungible,” it asserts, “giving funds to CVS [or] Walgreens will be direct aid to an abortion business … These powerful corporations need to feel the pressure of losing brand loyalty in pro-life parts of America.”
Though Notre Dame students are often occupied with classes, homework, and other activities, Garcia urges pro-life students to consider participating in the work of the local pro-life community. “When a student comes to Notre Dame,” she says, “they don’t just become a part of the university. They also become a part of the wider South Bend community, and they have a huge opportunity to make a positive impact. With an abortion clinic and abortion referral facility in the South Bend area, the local pro-life movement needs all the help we can get.”
South Bend offers a variety of opportunities for students to engage in the work of the local pro-life movement. According to Garcia, South Bend’s Sidewalk Advocates for Life team provides outreach at both Whole Woman’s Health and Planned Parenthood, “peacefully offering support to women in crisis.” For students interested in sidewalk counseling, Notre Dame Right to Life is hosting a training session in 161 Mendoza on February 25 at 9:30 a.m. Voices for Life also leads a door-to-door outreach program in South Bend, starting conversations about the “injustice of abortion” and sharing “local life-affirming resources,” and the Women’s Care Center, Hannah’s House, and Christ Child Society “provide concrete support to moms in need.”
In the coming months, Notre Dame Right to Life plans to continue its state-level advocacy by attending nearby state Marches for Life and promoting on-campus pregnancy and parenting resources, like the Family Resource Center and Campus Ministry. The club also continues to support—financially, emotionally, and spiritually—the mother it adopted through the Let Them Live organization earlier this year. “Even with … Roe v. Wade being overturned,” Right to Life’s website proclaims, “the necessary work to build a culture of life … is not finished.” Regardless of the direction of its focus, the club’s “most important work” remains “changing hearts and minds” to “ultimately make abortion unthinkable.”
Mattie Lossing is a sophomore studying political science and theology. Her hobbies include making wraps while working her on-campus job at Crossings and arriving to her Liturgical Choir rehearsals with as little time to spare as possible. Contact her at email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Notre Dame Right to Life