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Attacks on pro-life groups, churches continue after DOJ arrests pro-life activists: list

A pedestrian walks past a seal reading 'Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation,' displayed on the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building, in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 15, 2022.
A pedestrian walks past a seal reading "Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation," displayed on the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building, in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 15, 2022. | MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 4:18 p.m. ET on April 18:

As the pro-life movement expresses outrage over the arrest of pro-life activists like Mark Houck, attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and churches continue in the United States nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the U.S. Constitution does not contain the right to an abortion.

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have faced harsh criticism from the pro-life movement for an early-morning raid on the Pennsylvania home of Mark Houck. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced on Sept. 23 that it had arrested Houck for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The raid took place earlier that morning.

The DOJ contends that Houck “is alleged to have twice assaulted a man because he was a volunteer reproductive health care clinic escort.” According to the federal agency, “the defendant forcefully shoved” the clinic escort to the ground on two separate occasions at a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood clinic on Oct. 13, 2021, one of which required him to receive “medical attention.”

However, a fundraiser set up to raise money for the Houck family insists that the clinic escort was harassing Mark’s 12-year-old son as they prayed outside the clinic: “They walked down the street away from the entrance to the building. The escort followed them, and when he continued yelling at Mark’s son, Mark pushed him away.”

The arrest of Houck for violating the FACE Act, which subjects anyone 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, prompted backlash from the pro-life community. If convicted, Houck faced up to 11 years in prison.

Following Houck’s indictment, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights wrote a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the letter, Donohue wrote 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.”

Donohue referred to previous letters he had written urging the federal government to take stronger action against violence directed at pro-life pregnancy centers and churches following Politico’s May 2 publication of a leak of the Supreme Court’s draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggesting that a majority of justices were poised to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The vandalism continued after the official Dobbs decision was released on June 24. Nearly nine months after the Dobbs decision and more than 10 months after Politico published the leaked Dobbs draft decision, pro-life pregnancy centers and churches continue to find themselves subject to varying degrees of vandalism as federal law enforcement agencies direct their resources to prosecuting violations of the FACE Act.

Less than two weeks after Houck’s Sept. 23 arrest, the DOJ unsealed an indictment against nearly a dozen individuals for violating the FACE Act by blocking the entrance to a Tennessee abortion clinic. Houck was found not guilty in January 2023. Pro-life activists like Donohue see the FACE Act prosecutions and a corresponding lack of action to address the vandalism of churches and pro-life pregnancy centers as evidence of misplaced priorities.

While the perpetrators for most of the instances of pro-abortion vandalism remain at large, a group of pro-abortion activists identifying themselves as Jane’s Revenge has claimed responsibility for multiple acts of pro-abortion violence. The organization has declared “open season” on pro-life pregnancy centers after they failed to heed their call to disband within 30 days.

The following page lists the most recent acts of pro-abortion vandalism of churches and pregnancy support centers since Houck’s Sept. 23 arrest.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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