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Drugstore Chains Are Anti-Abortion Groups’ Latest Target

Pro-life forces are attacking pharmacy operators Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid, which plan to sell pregnancy-ending pills where legal.

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Illustration: Emma Erickson

Annual meetings are usually mundane affairs, full of auditors’ reports and PowerPoints about a company’s financial condition. But the Jan. 26 gathering of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. shareholders at a resort in Newport Coast, California, was anything but ordinary, after a group of about 80 anti-abortion activists with the organization Live Action showed up to protest the company’s decision to distribute pills used to terminate a pregnancy. A small number of protesters—including two from a different anti-abortion group who said they’d hidden for nine hours in a closet near the meeting room so they could “let them know blood will be on their hands”—burst from behind the podium while others wielding signs demonstrated outside the venue’s gates. Walgreens, which had set aside an area outside for protesters, said it was grateful no one was hurt during the “disruptive actions.”

Although the outburst was unusual, it certainly won’t be the last. Almost 100 protests across the country are slated for Feb. 4 by the group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, against drugstore operators CVS Health Corp., Rite Aid Corp. and Walgreens, which all plan to fill prescriptions for abortion pills in states where they’re legal. “We were hoping to get maybe 30, but it’s been very popular,” says Caroline Smith, a spokesperson for the group. Students for Life, another anti-abortion group, is planning a Valentine’s Day demonstration at Walgreens headquarters outside Chicago. The organization has also declared March 4 a day of protest against the three major pharmacy chains planning to dispense the medicines.