Pro-Life Activist Arrested by FBI Acquitted on Federal Charges
A federal jury on Monday acquitted Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck, who was charged with violating the FACE Act over a 2021 skirmish with a Planned Parenthood volunteer outside a Pennsylvania clinic.
The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
Houck was accused of physically assaulting Bruce Love, a 72-year-old clinic escort, in October 2021. Love was attempting to escort two patients exiting the Philadelphia clinic when Houck “forcefully shoved” him to the ground, according to the Justice Department. On a separate occasion, Houck allegedly verbally confronted the escort and shoved him to the ground outside the clinic. Love sustained injuries that required medical attention.
However, Houck said he spoke outside of abortion clinics each week and sometimes brought his 12-year-old son along. He said he shoved Love after the clinic escort invaded his son’s personal space and yelled at him.
The FBI arrested Houck in front of his family at his home last September.
At the time, an attorney for Houck accused the DOJ of targeting the pro-life activist “solely to intimidate people of faith and pro-life Americans.”
“Rather than accepting Mark Houck’s offer to appear voluntarily, the Biden Department of Justice chose to make an unnecessary show of potentially deadly force, sending twenty heavily armed federal agents to the Houck residence at dawn this past Friday,” said the attorney representing Houck, Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen.
“In threatening form, after nearly breaking down the family’s front door, at least five agents pointed guns at Mark’s head and arrested him in front of his wife and seven young children who were terrified that their husband and father would be shot dead before their eyes,” Breen added.
The FBI has disputed this version of events, saying in a statement in September that “inaccurate claims” were being made about the arrest.
“FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck’s front door, identified themselves as FBI agents, and asked him to exit the residence,” a statement from the FBI field office in Philadelphia said. “He did so and was taken into custody without incident pursuant to an indictment.
“While it’s the FBI’s standard practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence,” the statement added.