A pro-life father won a major legal victory Monday in a high-profile case when a federal jury found him not guilty of charges brought by the Biden Department of Justice.
Mark Houck, 49, had been charged with violating a federal law known as FACE Act which makes it a crime to injure, intimidate or interfere with individuals entering or leaving an abortion clinic. The Department of Justice alleged that Houck assaulted a 72-year-old clinic escort in 2021 while Houck was holding a pro-life protest. Houck’s attorneys said Houck was protecting his 12-year-old son from the escort.
The jury deliberated roughly an hour before finding Houck not guilty, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The case gained nationwide headlines last year when FBI agents raided Houck’s home and arrested him.
The Thomas More Society, which represented Houck in court, called it a “big win for pro-life advocates.”
“We are, of course, thrilled with the outcome,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive vice president and head of litigation. “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. 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.”
Said Houck, “I’m overjoyed, blessed, just so grateful.”
The Thomas More Society argued that the FACE Act applies only to patients and staff, not escorts. The text of the law says it protects those who are “obtaining or providing reproductive health services.”
“The FACE Act was never intended to cover disputes between advocates on the public sidewalks outside of our nation’s abortion clinics,” Breen said prior to the not-guilty verdict. “... Congress intended to limit the FACE Act to patients and staff working in the clinic and not to take sides between pro-life and pro-choice counselors and escorts on the sidewalk. The Biden Department of Justice’s prosecution of Mark Houck is pure harassment, meant solely to intimidate our nation’s pro-life sidewalk counselors who provide vital resources to help pregnant women at risk for abortion.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images-Brian A Jackson
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.