What did Mark Houck do? Pro-life activist charged for assaulting elderly clinic escort in Pennsylvania

Pro-life activist charged for assaulting elderly clinic escort in Pennsylvania (Image via Catholicvote)
Pro-life activist charged for assaulting elderly clinic escort in Pennsylvania (Image via Catholicvote)

A Planned Parenthood clinic escort was physically assaulted by activist Mark Houck last year. The well-known pro-life author and sidewalk counselor was detained in front of his kids on Friday, September 23 after the Department of Justice ordered a SWAT raid on his rural Pennsylvania residence.

Reportedly, federal authorities have filed charges against anti-abortion protester Mark Houck in Pennsylvania, who is accused of pushing a 72-year-old clinic escort twice. He was allegedly in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrance (FACE) Act, which was passed 30 years ago.

This act makes it illegal to use force with the intention of harming, intimidating, or interfering with the provision of reproductive healthcare services.

Mark Houck was apprehended in front of his children after the SWAT team raid at his residence

Based on sources, prosecutors alleged that on October 13, 2021, Houck assaulted a 72-year-old man referred to in the indictment as "B.L." outside the Planned Parenthood Elizabeth Black Health Center in Philadelphia.

According to a Justice Department press release, B.L. was allegedly trying to escort two patients out of the clinic when the defendant aggressively shoved him to the ground. In a second instance, Houck was charged with "verbally" harassing B.L. outside the facility before pushing him down violently and causing injuries that required medical care.

US Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero said:

“Assault is always a serious offense, and under the FACE Act, if the victim is targeted because of their association with a reproductive healthcare clinic, it is a federal crime. Our Office and the Department of Justice are committed to prosecuting crimes which threaten the safety and rights of all individuals.”

Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division also shed light on the situation and said:

“Put simply, violence is never the answer. Violating the FACE Act by committing a physical assault is a serious crime for which the FBI will work to hold offenders accountable.”

According to Mark Houck's wife, Ryan-Marie, their home was stormed by 25 to 30 armed FBI agents early on Friday morning. The officials allegedly banged on the door and shouted at the family to open it.

She pleaded with the officers and said:

“Please, I’m going to open the door, but, please, my children are in the home. I have seven babies in the house.”

She also alleged that the agents pointed their pistols at them while yelling at the kids to get upstairs.

She shared:

“The kids were all just screaming. It was all just very scary and traumatic.”

Shortly after, when Houck's wife questioned the FBI agents about their legal justification for taking her husband, they allegedly responded that "they were going to take him whether they had a warrant or not."

Ryan-Marie Houck claimed that after she accused the officials of taking Mark hostage, they gave her the first page of the arrest warrant. The document revealed that Mark was accused of breaking the FACE Act.

Mark Houck may receive a maximum punishment of 11 years in jail, three years of supervised release, and fines as high as $350,000 if found guilty.

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Edited by Adelle Fernandes