A pro-life activist from Pennsylvania has been acquitted of federal charges in connection with an altercation outside a Philadelphia abortion clinic.
On January 30, 2023, a federal jury acquitted Mark Houck of charges that he had violated the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a crime to “use force with the intent to injure, intimidate, and interfere with anyone because that person is a provider of reproductive health care.” The U.S. Department of Justice alleged that Houck had pushed an abortion clinic escort to the ground twice in October 2021. Houck’s attorney countered that Houck “‘had a one-off altercation with a man who harassed Houck’s minor son, approximately 100 feet from the abortion business and across the street.’” After the altercation, the Justice Department sent ‘20-plus heavily armed federal agents with shields and long guns’” to arrest Houck in front of his family. If convicted, Houck could have been sentenced to up to 11 years in prison and fined up to $350,000. Pro-life advocates have noted the contrast between the federal government’s aggressive approach to this case and its relative indifference to the dozens of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers that have occurred over the past year.
Houck was represented by Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society. Following the verdict, Breen commented, “‘We took on Goliath—the full might of the United States government—and won. 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.’” New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is pleased with the verdict in the Houck case and hopes that the Biden administration will refrain from using heavy-handed tactics against pro-life Americans in the future.