Pro-life activist Mark Houck may be riding the fame that came from being wrongfully prosecuted by the federal government all the way to Congress.
Houck announced he will challenge four-term Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) in the 2024 Republican primary.
In January, a jury acquitted Houck, 48, of all charges. The Bucks County father had been accused of violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act on Oct. 13, 2021, when he pushed a volunteer escort at a Planned Parenthood clinic on Locust Street in Philadelphia. The escort, who had confronted Houck’s 12-year-old son, Mark Jr., was not seriously injured. Philadelphia courts declined to prosecute Houck, but after Roe v. Wade was overturned about a year later, the U.S. Department of Justice brought charges.
Houck, who protested in front of abortion clinics for years, could have been sentenced to 11 years in prison if convicted.
During a podcast interview, Houck told DVJournal he believes the Biden administration has implemented a two-tier, partisan justice system targeting “American citizens who are exercising their constitutional rights.”
“I’m an enemy of the state, as are many others like me. And we saw that all played out in 2022. It’s still playing out,” Houck said. “So, clearly, there is an agenda there. And you know, I’ve been doing this for 20 years now. All of a sudden, Roe v. Wade gets overturned in June 2022. And now I’m a target of the federal government. Come on!”
Asked why he’s running, Houck gave an apocalyptic answer: “Because the republic is falling apart. That’s what Congressman Scott Perry (R-Dauphin) shared with me when I asked him his thoughts about me running. And he said, ‘Look, we need people of integrity. We need people of your character in Washington. So, if not you, then who? Right? So that’s the short answer. Obviously, what happened to me and my family, my wife and seven children, you know, we don’t want that ever to happen to anyone else ever again in this country.”
Asked about challenging a pro-life Republican in a Democratic corner of the state, Houck rejected the idea that Fitzpatrick is truly pro-life.
Houck cited the congressman’s vote to fund abortions for military members. However, Fitzpatrick has voted in favor of pro-life bills, including the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a resolution against violence against pregnancy resource centers, and against the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would wipe out state pro-life laws and permit abortion unit the moment of birth.
And in 2022, Fitzpatrick’s Democratic challenger, Ashley Ehasz, attacked his pro-life stance.
Asked about Houck’s candidacy, the national organization SBA Pro-Life America sounded supportive.
“The Biden-Harris administration will stop at nothing, including weaponizing the Justice Department to punish political enemies like Mark Houck and protect the abortion industry that spends millions to elect them. It is clear the administration has put a target on anyone who reveals the horror of abortion and works to protect unborn children and their mothers. In this new Dobbs era, that’s why it is so important to have pro-life leaders and put a stop to the Democrats’ extreme agenda.”
Houck, a Kintnersville resident, said that while abortion is not his only issue, “The life of the child in utero is, is of [primary] importance. And of course, you know, all things flow from that. So our decisions on energy, our decisions on education, our decisions on the environment, they’re all going to stem from the dignity of the human person.”
Houck said he is pro-legal immigration but not the “22 million” illegal immigrants who have entered the country under Biden’s policies. He is also concerned about fentanyl that is killing thousands.
Houck, a father of seven, runs a nonprofit called The King’s Men. The group helps men in their roles as fathers and providers.
Ashley Garecht, vice chair of the Pro-Life Union of Philadelphia, said, “As a nonprofit, the PLU does not endorse any political candidates. Mark has been a staunch defender of the unborn for decades, and his work for The King’s Men and in partnership with the Pro-Life Union has had a significant effect on the lives of hundreds of families dealing with crisis pregnancies.
“Given the egregious behavior of the Biden administration’s Department of Justice last year, weaponizing the full force of government in an attempt to strip Mark of his First Amendment and parental rights and intimidate into silence the broader Philadelphia pro-life movement, it is no surprise that Mark is now focused on reforming a federal government that has disintegrated into corruption and one-sided application of justice.”
But some political pundits believe Houck will need a miracle to prevail.
“Does anyone really believe Mr. Houck will do better than the other GOP challengers who fell to Congressman Fitzpatrick in the past?” asked Christopher Nicholas, a political consultant with Eagle Consulting Group. “That district has no history in general elections of supporting Republicans whose only top issue is pro-life. I don’t expect that to change next year,” said Nicholas, who grew up in Bucks County.
Fitzpatrick did not respond to requests for comment.