Acquitted Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck, in front of House Judiciary members on Tuesday, revisited the moment when federal and state law enforcement authorities raided his home with guns last year on accusations he blocked others from entering an abortion clinic.
“My home was raided by ten unmarked units, state troopers, federal law enforcement personnel,” Houck told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government during a hearing. “I had five federal agents on my doorstep at 6:30 in the morning, with long guns pointed at me and my seven children.”
Houck, who leads a nonprofit group that counsels women outside of abortion clinics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, testified in front of the subcommittee members during a hearing to revisit the implications of the FACE Act — a federal law prohibiting people from blocking others from entering an abortion clinic — and examine recent attacks on pregnancy centers, pro-life facilities, and the Biden Administration’s use of the federal statute.
Houck was acquitted in January after federal authorities threatened him with 11 years in prison for allegedly violating the FACE Act, a federal crime making it illegal to injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone due to their status as a reproductive health care provider. Months before a jury acquitted the pro-life activist, FBI agents in 15 vehicles raided his residence, quickly surrounded the house, and began pounding on the door, demanding they open up.
He told subcommittee members that he believes the FBI raided his home to “humiliate me, to scare my children, and to instill fear in pro-life America.”
“My children were downrange of many guns, and they screamed through the whole process,” Houck said. “The committee should know that they were traumatized.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) echoed Houck’s remarks, saying he believes federal law enforcement authorities targeted him for his pro-life position and threatened to limit funding for the FBI.
“So if you’re pro-family, pro-life, and you want a border, you’re a target — and your family fit all of them,” Jordan told Houck. “You’re a pro-life, pro-family Catholic, for goodness’ sake — they’re going to come after you. You’ve got seven kids. You’re not allowed to have seven kids today, you know, we’re trying to save the planet. You can’t do that in America today.”
“You were the example,” Jordan added. “That is how pervasive this political attitude is at the highest levels of our agencies.”
A spokesperson with the Philadelphia office of the FBI previously said SWAT was not involved with the arrest of Houck.
“There are inaccurate claims being made regarding the arrest of Mark Houck, a spokesperson told Fox News. “No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved. FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck’s front door, identified themselves as FBI agents, and asked him to exit the residence. He did so and was taken into custody without incident pursuant to an indictment.”
Notably, a senior FBI source told Fox News that 15-20 agents at the scene might have come to the family’s door with guns out. However, the source claimed authorities never pointed the guns at Houck or his family.
Chairman Mike Johnson (R-LA) said he believes that the Biden administration has displayed “a clear double standard” of enforcing the FACE Act in a way that protects pro-abortion activists and facilities while substantially ignoring attacks on pro-life advocates, facilities, and churches.
“It is a disgrace the Justice Department would rather cater to the pro-abortion political movement than protect places that assist pregnant women in need,” Johnson said.
Talcott Camp, the chief legal and strategy officer of the National Abortion Federation, told the subcommittee, the number of death threats or threats of harm rose from 182 to 218; stalkings rose 229% from 28 to 92; burglaries rose 231%; and four clinics suffered arsons since draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in early May 2022 and the subsequent proliferation of state abortion bans.
Since the historic ruling first made headlines last summer, CatholicVote reported at least 87 pregnancy resource centers and pro-life groups have been attacked and vandalized.
Arielle Del Turco, director for the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., told Congress that 420 incidents occurred in 45 states and Washington, D.C. between January 2018 and September 2022, including 342 occurrences of vandalism, 58 arson attacks or attempts, 12 gun-related incidents, 11 bomb threats, and 19 other incidences involving assault, threats, interruption of worship services.
In April, the center reported an additional 54 incidents in the final months of 2022 and 69 in the first quarter of 2023.