The case of Mark Houck was one of more than two dozen the DOJ has pursued against pro-life protestors since “Dobbs.”

Update (January 30, 2023): On Monday, a jury acquitted pro-life protestor Mark Houck of federal charges related to pushing an abortion clinic escort.

Houck’s federal case, where he faced up to 11 years in prison, was one of more than two dozen filed against pro-life protestors in the months after the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson.

The charges fell under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act, which makes it a crime to impede access to clinics. In Houck’s federal trial in Pennsylvania last week, the judge had asked whether the FACE Act was “stretched a little thin here,” according to Catholic News Agency.

A Catholic, Houck had been volunteering alongside his 12-year-old son in 2021 with 40 Days for Life, a Christian group that organizes prayer vigils outside abortion clinics, when he got into an altercation with a 72-year-old clinic escort. Forty Days for Life said the clinic escort began to “verbally abuse” Houck’s son, and the indictment said Houck pushed the escort. The escort testified in the trial that he skinned his elbow and bruised his palm, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The case drew particular attention–including a night of prayer before the trial began last week–because of its handling by federal officials. After local prosecutors declined to file charges, federal prosecutors took the unusual approach of treating Houck as a flight risk and arrested him with a team of FBI agents a year after the clinic incident.

In a statement following the verdict, Houck’s attorney Peter Breen called the case “harassment from day one.”

Some pro-lifers have complained that the DOJ has not pursued cases against …

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