Mark Houck was acquitted of federal charges, which could have put him in jail for over a decade. He was acquitted of federal charges that would have separated him from his seven children, his wife, and his work on behalf of the unborn. He was acquitted of federal charges lodged by an activist Department of Justice that cherry-picks the targets of its ire, including parents who protest at school board meetings because they refuse to have their children exposed to inappropriate sexual materials.
The fact that he was acquitted is incredibly important. The takeaway from the acquittal is that a jury of regular men and women, selected from a general pool of citizens, was able to see through a political prosecution presented under the guise of protecting women’s access to healthcare.
We in the pro-life movement understand that not everyone, and perhaps not even a majority of people, agrees with our position on abortion. Poll after poll indicates most Americans think abortion should be legal at some level, and an overwhelming majority of those who oppose abortion would still allow for exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s health.
It’s no secret that in championing life at all stages and in all circumstances, we do not reflect the current view on this extremely divisive topic.
But we were told, on Monday afternoon, that we are not alone in believing that the full force of the United States government should not be brought down upon the head of a man who has eschewed violence and instead, has attempted to dissuade women from committing violence against the most innocent of beings. What makes this verdict so powerful is that people who might themselves support abortion rights were unwilling to allow federal law to be used as a weapon against someone whose religious beliefs and moral values compel him to advocate for the unborn.
As an attorney, this gives me hope.
Setting aside the pro-life issue, I can still see how this jury upheld the rule of law. Nothing that was presented as evidence in court sustained the allegations that Houck had used violence to prevent women from accessing abortion. The fact that an elderly man who was spouting expletives at a teenager got shoved was, at most, simple assault (and even that was thrown out at the state level). To elevate a mundane skirmish between a pro-life activist and an abortion clinic escort shows how biased this Department of Justice has become when it deals with hot-button controversies like abortion and parental rights. And a jury said, “no, this time you won’t win.”
The truth is, we are all winners in this case. Even if you support abortion up to the last trimester, and even if you would never raise your voice in prayer before a Planned Parenthood clinic, and even if you are angered by the Dobbs decision overturning Roe last June, you should celebrate the fact that a jury of men and women, like you, spoke truth to the immense power of the federal government and said that they would not allow the laws to be manipulated to send out a partisan message.
Today it was Mark Houck. Tomorrow it could be you. This is an extremely important precedent and an affirmation of the rule of law.