Pro-life activist targeted in FBI raid is running for Congress

A pro-life activist whose home was raided by FBI agents and who faced 11 years in jail for his pro-life advocacy triggered national outcry has announced his intention to run for Congress.

Mark Houck, a pro-life activist arrested by FBI agents in an early morning raid for the purported assault of a Planned Parenthood clinic escort who was harassing his 12-year-old son, announced his intention to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in an interview with the Catholic website Church Militant Tuesday.

Houck is running to represent Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, currently represented by Republican Brian Fitzpatrick.

“I have seen first-hand what an out of control government can do to its citizens,” Houck explains in a statement on his campaign website. “I will fight to protect all people and their rights under God & our Constitution. My platform is based on common sense.”

Houck vowed that his campaign will “focus on restoring traditional values & principles that are central to the American identity, such as faith, family & freedom of speech, religion, & the right to bear arms.”

Support for the pro-life movement also looms large in Houck’s campaign platform, with the candidate declaring that “we must defend all human life at all stages of development” because “creating Human life is the greatest gift God has given to humanity.”

Houck gained national attention after news broke of an early morning raid at his Bucks County, Pennsylvania, home on Sept. 23, 2022. That same day, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had indicted Houck for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, a federal law that subjects any person who “intentionally injures, intimidates, or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person” seeking to “provide reproductive health services” to federal charges.

The federal government maintained that “the defendant is alleged to have twice assaulted a man because he was a volunteer reproductive health care clinic escort” at a Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A fundraiser set up to cover Houck’s legal expenses painted a different picture of what took place on Oct. 13, 2021.

“Last year, Mark and his son were praying in front of the PP at 12th and Locust. When one of the escorts began harassing Mark’s son, they walked down the street away from the entrance to the building,” the fundraiser stated. “The escort followed them, and when he continued yelling at Mark’s son, Mark pushed him away.”

The fundraiser also detailed the ordeal experienced by Houck, his wife, and seven young children during the early morning raid. It states that “20 SWAT team members” descended on Houck’s home at 7 a.m., with “guns drawn and shields up in the faces of Mark, his wife, and their seven young children.” The father of seven was arrested in front of his children and released from custody later that day.

News of Houck’s treatment at the hands of federal law enforcement did not sit well with Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

He cited Houck’s arrest as an example of the Biden administration’s double standard when enforcing the law based on whether or not a person supports abortion, contending that “there seems to be much interest in pursuing alleged wrongdoing by pro-life activists, yet little interest in pursuing alleged wrongdoing by abortion-rights activists.”

The pro-life advocacy group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America offered a similar analysis of Houck’s arrest as evidence of the Biden administration’s effort to “punish political enemies and protect the abortion industry that spends millions to elect pro-abortion Democrats.”

Pennsylvania’s Republican nominee in last year’s gubernatorial election, Doug Mastriano, lamented that the Houcks’ seven children were “traumatized and in tears as they witnessed their parents held at gunpoint and their father led away in handcuffs.”

Four months after the early morning raid that prompted outrage from pro-life organizations, Catholic advocacy groups and Republican politicians, a jury empaneled in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found Houck not guilty on all counts connected to the supposed violation of the FACE Act. The pro-life activist has signaled his plans to press charges for prosecutorial abuse after he was cleared of all charges.

According to Daily Kos Elections, which keeps track of presidential election results by congressional district, President Joe Biden carried Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District by 4.6 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election. Fitzpatrick has routinely overperformed in the Democratic-leaning swing district, winning his most recent re-election bid by nearly 10 points as Republican candidates running for statewide office lost to Democrats.

As a representative of a swing district, Fitzpatrick has developed a reputation as one of the more moderate Republicans to serve in the U.S. House. Most recently, Fitzpatrick voted against the Jackson Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would ban the Pentagon from paying for service members to travel out-of-state to obtain abortions.

In the past, Fitzpatrick has supported the Right to Contraception Act, which would codify a right to contraception into federal law, the Respect for Marriage Act, which codified a right to same-sex marriage into federal law and the Equality Act, which would enshrine nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people into federal law. Houck outlined his concerns with Fitzpatrick’s voting record in his conversation with Church Militant.

“He doesn’t represent my views as a constituent of his,” Houck said. “He doesn’t vote the way I’m happy with. We’re running to protect the rights of families and defend traditional family values in our district. Unfortunately, Brian doesn’t represent that. He may disagree with me, but based upon the voting record, he does not represent me, and I think that there’s a lot of people like me in this district; a lot of people that have similar views.”

Despite his criticism of the incumbent, Houck stressed that he has “the highest respect” for Fitzpatrick.

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