President Joe Biden’s pro-abortion Department of Justice (DOJ) tried — and failed — to imprison pro-life activist and Catholic father of seven Mark Houck for 11 years over a shoving incident that occurred in October of 2021.
Houck, 48, testified in district court that he pushed Planned Parenthood escort, 73-year-old Bruce Love, because Love was verbally harassing his 12-year-old son as he was sidewalk counseling outside a Philadelphia abortion clinic. Video of the incident obtained by Breitbart News shows Love going out of his way to approach Houck and his son, although Love has denied verbally provoking Houck.
More than a year after the incident, the DOJ decided to press charges against Houck, despite the fact that even local authorities declined to press charges. On September 23, 2022, the DOJ sent a team of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents to his home and allegedly arrested him at gunpoint in front of his wife and children.
The DOJ accused Houck of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act), a 1993 law created to prosecute crimes at pro-life pregnancy centers that has “been used almost exclusively against pro-life activists,” Catholic News Agency’s (CNA) Joe Bukuras detailed. The FACE Act outlaws “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
Jury deliberations began Friday but were “deadlocked” by the evening. The jury resumed deliberations Monday, and an alternate juror subsequently took the place of one of the original jurors by 1:30 p.m. The jury then found Houck not guilty on both counts. Houck was charged with two counts of violating the FACE Act and faced 11 years in federal prison if he had been found guilty.
According to Bukuras, supporters of Houck “cried and hugged one another” after the verdict was read in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
Mark Houck’s first comments after being acquitted: pic.twitter.com/undSF3oiRx
— Joe Bukuras (@JoeBukuras) January 30, 2023
Bukuras noted that even “U.S. District Judge Gerald Pappert himself raised the possibility that the case should never have been brought to trial, asking the prosecution Thursday whether the federal FACE Act didn’t ‘seem to be stretched a little thin here.’”
Houck’s arrest came after the DOJ established a “Reproductive Rights Task Force” to “protect access to reproductive health care” in anticipation of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
The DOJ went after 26 pro-life individuals in 2022 with alleged violations of the FACE Act, even though FBI Director Christopher Wray admitted in November that approximately 70 percent of abortion-related threats of violence in the United States since the Dobbs decision have been against pro-life groups. Out of more than 100 attacks of churches and pro-life pregnancy resource centers, the DOJ finally indicted two pro-abortion activists out of Florida accused of vandalism and FACE Act violations last week.
Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation, celebrated the victory and condemned the Biden administration’s “intimidation against pro-life people.”
“We are, of course, thrilled with the outcome. Mark and his family are now free of the cloud that the Biden administration threw upon them. We took on Goliath — the full might of the United States government — and won,” Breen said. “The jury saw through and rejected the prosecution’s discriminatory case, which was harassment from day one. This is a win for Mark and the entire pro-life movement. The Biden Department of Justice’s intimidation against pro-life people and people of faith has been put in its place.”