Houck, 49, was charged last fall with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances ACT, or FACE Act. He faced up to 11 years in prison for an incident that occurred a year before, in October 2021, when Houck shoved clinic escort Bruce Love to the ground outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia.
That push, which would normally be a misdemeanor, was used by federal prosecutors to claim Houck violated a federal law that prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
“This was an absolutely bogus prosecution by the Biden administration,” Steven Ertelt, editor of Life News, tells AFN, “to try to put a pro-life father in prison.”
Kristi Hamrick of Students for Life tells AFN Houck was the victim of a “weaponized” Department of Justice that is arresting and charging pro-lifers at the same time it is ignoring violent attacks against churches and pregnancy centers across the country. Considering that pro-life students are routinely harassed and attacked for their beliefs, she says, the injustice by our own federal government makes you wonder what is happening in Washington, D.C.
It appears what happened at the Department of Justice was revenge after the Dobbs ruling last June overturned Roe v Wade, The Washington Times noted this week.
Vanita Gupta, an associate attorney general in the Biden administration, made that plain in speech she gave last December. The overturning of Roe v Wade, she said, “dealt a devastating blow to women throughout the country, taking away the constitutional right to abortion and increasing the urgency of our work, including enforcement of the FACE Act, to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
Yet the Feds knew the shoving incident a year earlier occurred approximately 50 feet from the abortion clinic entrance. It was clear in surveillance video, which aired Monday night on Fox News, that Houck was not trying to interfere in violation of the FACE Act.
In the video, which shows a busy Philly street corner, Love can be seen harassing Houck and his son while they are protesting on a street corner. With his son hiding behind him, Houck can be seen yelling at Love to move back and go away, but Love takes a few steps, turns back around, and comes back again. He then gets shoved to the ground.
"It’s not the worst thing in the world,” Fox News host Sean Hannity told Houck on his program. “But didn’t you face up to 11 years in jail for this?”
“That’s correct,” Houck replied.
Peter Breen, the Thomas More Society attorney who represented Houck, told Hannity the U.S. Department of Justice sent its “top guy” from Washington, D.C. to oversee the case against his client. That federal prosecutor is Sanjay Patel, an attorney in the Civil Rights Division. In closing arguments, he told jurors the trial is not about “viewpoints” or about “people’s views on reproductive health,” either.
“It’s about an aggressive man,” the prosecutor insisted, “who used his size and his youth to shove a grandfather because the clinic provides services he opposes.”
According to a trial story by The Philadelphia Inquirer, before jurors were told an innocent grandfather was hurt by a crazed abortion protester, Houck’s son, Mark Jr., took the stand. The son testified Love had cursed and shouted at them to “go home and masturbate” and to focus on pedophile priests instead of an abortion clinic.
According to the Biden administration's version of justice, the abortion clinic volunteer who said that was an innocent grandfather protected by a federal law. The son's father, who made the cursing man shut up with a shove, deserved to be behind bars for violating it.
The federal jury obviously didn’t agree: Jurors took only one hour to find Houck not guilty.
After a federal grand jury indicted Houck last fall, the public has also not forgotten the FBI conducted an early-morning, SWAT-like raid to arrest Houck at his rural home in Pennsylvania.
“The Biden Department of Justice approved an early-morning raid on his home, and ruthlessly sought to prop him up as an example, to assuage the pro-abortion mob,” said Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.
“They treated Mark like a domestic terrorist because of his faith,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said in a Twitter post. “This type of intimidation has no place in America.”
In an interview with AFN, Breen says Houck's conviction would have emboldened the Biden administration to prosecute protesters "all over the country" for violating the FACE Act. Abortion clinic volunteers, he adds, would be emboldened, too, to provoke the protesters in an attempt to get them charged with a federal crime.
"Now with this not guilty verdict," he concludes, "we clear the way for Congress to now investigate more deeply what happened here."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with an AFN interview with Peter Breen after the jury verdict.