In the biblical and cultural struggle to save preborn lives, perseverance in the face of opposition marks a courageous heart. And as the Rev. Billy Graham said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
Mark Houck is such a man.
Fresh off his victory in a criminal trial which pitted the vast weight and resources of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against the pro-life husband and father of seven over an unfair criminal charge stemming from a minor sidewalk scuffle, Mark Houck returned to the scene of his non-crime this week to join others in a prayer vigil outside a Philadelphia abortion business.
LifeNews reported that the Houck family attended the event, sponsored by national and local pro-life groups such as the Christian Defense Coalition and the Pro-life Union of Greater Philadelphia. The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, told the news outlet,
It was deeply troubling to see these unjust federal charges brought against longtime, pro-life leader, Mark Houck. The arrest, charges, and federal trial were clearly an attempt by the Department of Justice to silence a peaceful, prayerful, and public pro-life witness in front of the Philadelphia Planned Parenthood abortion center and across the country.
Mary Margaret Olohan, Senior Reporter with the Daily Signal, tweeted from the event: “Mark Houck, cleared of the DOJ’s charges against him, takes his whole family to pray for the unborn at the Philly Planned Parenthood where this all started. Mark previously told me that their sidewalk advocacy over the past few decades has saved many, many babies.”
Mark Houck, cleared of the DOJ’s charges against him, takes his whole family to pray for the unborn at the Philly Planned Parenthood where this all started. Mark previously told me that their sidewalk advocacy over the past few decades has saved many, many babies. pic.twitter.com/21PwSU9zlg
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) February 9, 2023
Houck’s life might have looked drastically different had he been convicted of violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which carried the possibility of up to 11 years in prison and fines of up to $350,000.
As the Daily Citizen previously reported, Houck’s rural Pennsylvania home was surrounded by over 20 heavily armed FBI agents in September 2022 to arrest him over an incident from 2021 at the Philadelphia abortion seller’s premises, where he pushed an abortion “escort” away from Houck’s 12-year-old son after the escort harassed him, shouting vulgarities.
Not only was the federal charge unfounded, but the FBI’s heavy-handed tactics in arresting Houck were not necessary, and terrorized Houck’s wife and children who were home at the time. The show of force, however, was likely meant to send a message of intimidation to pro-life activists around the country to cease their praying and sidewalk counseling efforts in front of abortion facilities.
If so, Houck didn’t get the message. Following his acquittal on all charges from a federal jury after a week-long trial that ended on January 31, Houck is not only back doing what he feels called to do to save babies, but he says he will be suing the FBI and the DOJ for prosecutorial abuse.
Not everyone in the federal government agrees with the treatment of Houck at the hands of the FBI and DOJ. Various members of Congress have requested that Attorney General Merrick Garland explain the excessive use of force displayed during Houck’s arrest.
And there are still more pro-life activists facing federal prosecution for peacefully protesting at an abortion facility in Tennessee in March 2021, including 87-year-old Eva Edl and 73-year-old Chester Gallagher.
Please pray for all the men and women willing to face prison time in the peaceful defense of the preborn. May their courage be contagious.
Photo from Thomas More Society.