On Wednesday, the trial began for Mark Houck, the Catholic pro-life activist and father of seven who was arrested in September after the FBI raided his home over alleged violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
According to the Catholic News Agency, "Prosecutor Ashley Martin of the US attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleged in her opening statement that Houck was the aggressor and instigator in an incident involving an abortion clinic escort more than one year ago."
48-year-old Houck was arrested and indicted for violating the FACE Act, which prohibits "violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services."
The prosecution told jurors the case was "not about pro-choice, it’s not about pro-life, it’s not about activism, it’s not about politics."
"Politics just doesn’t come into the equation here," Martin added.
Roughly 15 vehicles and dozens of armed federal SWAT officers swarmed Houck's Kintnersville, Pennsylvania home, where his wife and children reside, on September 23.
According to Houck's wife, Ryan-Marie, SWAT entered, and "they had big, huge rifles pointed at Mark and pointed at me and kind of pointed throughout the house."
Ryan-Marie said it happened a little after 7 am and "The kids were all just screaming. It was all just very scary and traumatic." The mother, who homeschools her seven kids, told LifeSiteNews that she and her husband asked to see a warrant but the FBI told them "they were going to take him whether they had a warrant or not."
On September 2, Houck pleaded not guilty to the charges, which originated from an incident on October 13, 2021 at the Planned Parenthood Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center on Locust Street in Philadelphia. According to the federal indictment, Houck allegedly shoved a 72-year-old man who was volunteering at the abortion clinic during a verbal altercation.
The case has already gone through the state court process and was thrown out. The Biden Department of Justice took up the matter nearly a year.
In the prosecution's opening, Martin said Houck was a "6-foot-tall, 200-pound, muscular" who pushed the 72-year-old.
Houck's defense attorney, Brian McMonagle, said in his opening, "This is not a state court prosecution for assault."
"They made a federal case out of a shove," he added.
Video evidence shown by the prosecution reportedly shows Love approaching Houck, who then shoved the 72-year-old back. After the show, Love fell down.
The prosecution alleged that the altercation happened after a previous engagement between the two men, but Planned Parenthood did not save any of their camera footage from the day except the excerpt shown.
As LifeSiteNews reported, Houck has claimed that Love had approached him and his children and repeatedly said inappropriate things to the family.
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