“I’m George Bailey today,” were among the first words spoken by Mark Houck in the moments following his acquittal on Monday. The pro-life husband and father of seven had been subjected to months of torturous waiting under a looming prosecution by the Biden administration that could have resulted in a sentence of 11 years in federal prison. While the Department of Justice claimed that Houck had violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act outside of a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood, the Houck family and its faithful allies knew the Biden administration’s politically-motivated narrative was a far cry from the truth.
Houck was accused of pushing 72-year-old Bruce Love, an abortion facility escort, to the ground. Houck’s attorneys notified the DOJ that, though there was no legal foundation for a FACE Act charge, Houck would appear voluntarily if summoned. Rather than accept this responsible offer, Merrick Garland’s DOJ saw fit to arrest Houck in the most humiliating and traumatizing manner possible — by 25 federal agents, at gunpoint, in the early hours of the morning, in front of his terrified wife and crying small children, who will no doubt bear the psychological repercussions of this incident for years to come.
No objective observer could doubt the intentions behind the theatrical arrest of Mark Houck: Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Biden administration’s DOJ intended to make an example of the pro-life activist, no matter the cost to his life or family.
Unfortunately for the rabid abortion extremist in the Oval Office and his shameless henchman at the DOJ, the case against Houck rested on sinking sand. Houck’s attorneys with the Thomas More Society handily proved that the FACE Act did not apply in Houck’s case. Bruce Love had a proven history of such acts of aggression; the pro-life father was merely defending his son after Love aggressively harassed the 12-year-old boy with profanities while the father and son prayed together, far away from the entrance of the abortion facility.
After days of waiting, the jury pushed past deadlock to deliver a verdict: Mark Houck was not guilty of violating the FACE Act. Despite every effort from the federal government to paint Houck as a violent pro-life radical, the jury had seen the truth — Houck was not aggressing against an “enemy” for his beliefs about abortion. He was protecting his terrified child from an immanent threat, as any good father would do.
The Houck family’s prayerful defense against the oppression of an abortion-obsessed federal government is truly commendable. Houck’s 12-year-old son, whom Mark emotionally called the “star witness,” courageously took the stand during the trial to defend his father, truthfully setting straight the facts that adults had attempted to manipulate. May we all praise the Lord for empowering the Houck family to set an example for all pro-lifers who find themselves as the David facing down the Goliath of the abortion industry.
We must not forget, however, that, while God used for good that which men intended for evil, the suffering of the Houck family since Mark’s arrest in September 2022 was a needless perversion of the law to serve the Biden administration’s radical love of abortion. The DOJ has unquestionably been weaponized against the pro-life movement, even in the face of absurdly disproportionate violence against pro-life organizations, property, and people. Family Research Council has tracked at least 124 instances of such pro-abortion violence, harassment, destruction of property, and vandalism. So far, the DOJ has brought charges against only two pro-abortion activists under the FACE Act, compared to 26 pro-lifers.
Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) has previously stated in reference to the Houck case, “Attorney General Merrick Garland oversees an increasingly politicized FBI that seems hell-bent on making examples of average American citizens who don’t align politically with the administration. … Congress owes the American people transparent accountability for any and all wrongdoing by the FBI and Garland’s DOJ.” Garland has faced calls for impeachment on multipleoccasions.
The outcome of Mark Houck’s trial is a monumental victory for pro-lifers across the country, countless of whom regularly pray and sidewalk counsel outside of abortion facilities in hopes of sparing mothers and their children from the violence of abortion. However, Houck’s case should never have made it to trial in the first place. American citizens, regardless of their personal convictions and religious beliefs, should not be harassed or made examples of based on the radical whims of the federal government. The Biden administration’s abortion radicalism has gone too far — it is high time for accountability that brings justice for pro-life Americans.
As for Mark Houck, the pro-life movement’s George Bailey, no schemes of abortion radicals will keep him from sharing with moms and their unborn babies that it truly is a wonderful life.
Joy Stockbauer is a policy analyst for the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.
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