Pro-life advocates and lawmakers react to news of Mark Houck’s acquittal

 

Mark Houck talks to reporters outside the U.S. District courthouse in Philadelphia with his lawyers, Peter Breen (left), Brian McMonagle (right), and Andrew Bath (background) following his acquittal on two charges of violating the FACE Act, Jan. 30, 2023. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 30, 2023 / 16:09 pm (CNA).

Pro-life lawmakers and activists are celebrating after a jury acquitted pro-life activist Mark Houck Monday on federal charges stemming from an altercation with a volunteer escort outside a Planned Parenthood facility in Philadelphia.

Although Houck, a Catholic father of seven, acknowledged he shoved the volunteer twice, he said he only did so because the person was harassing his 12-year-old son. Local law enforcement refused to file charges against him, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) dispatched a team of FBI agents to arrest him at gunpoint in front of his family.

He could have served up to 11 years in prison if he had been found guilty on two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, better known as the FACE Act.

Several lawmakers praised the legal victory but chastised the DOJ for filing charges in the first place.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, tweeted that the news “marks a win” for the pro-life community. He also alleged that the charges were brought to intimidate pro-life advocates.

“[President Joe] Biden’s DOJ raided Mark’s home — in front of his children — on sham charges. They treated Mark like a domestic terrorist because of his faith. This type of intimidation has no place in America.”

Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, echoed some of those concerns.

“Mark Houck never should have been prosecuted, let alone treated like a terrorist in an early-morning FBI raid with a SWAT team,” Cotton tweeted. “[Attorney General] Merrick Garland should be ashamed for using [the] DOJ as a political weapon to target pro-life activists.”

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, also congratulated Houck on his legal victory and warned that this case demonstrates how politicized the DOJ has become.

“Some folks might mistakenly interpret this as an embarrassing loss for the politicized DOJ, but that would be ignoring their modus operandi, which is to punish people by putting them and their families through this process,” Massie tweeted. “In any case, congrats to Mr. Houck for prevailing.”

Many pro-life activists also expressed excitement about the win along with concerns about the power of the DOJ.

The pro-life group 40 Days for Life, which organizes peaceful protests outside abortion clinics, hailed the verdict as a “major win.” Shawn Carney, the founder of 40 Days for Life, called the case a “well-deserved embarrassment for the FBI and DOJ and an abuse of power by the Biden administration.”

“Being pro-life is not illegal,” Carney noted.

Lila Rose, the founder and president of the pro-life group Live Action, also reacted to the verdict.

“Pro-life father and sidewalk advocate Mark Houck has been found NOT GUILTY of violating the FACE Act,” Rose tweeted. “Last [fall] he was raided at gunpoint by the Biden FBI in front of his 7 children & faced up to 11 years in prison.”

Ryan Bomberger, a pro-life activist and speaker, called it “great news” that Biden’s Justice Department “fails to carry out its injustice.”

“Peaceful pro-life father, Mark Houck, is found NOT GUILTY of violating ridiculous #FACE Act,” Bomberger tweeted.


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