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The Houck Family, Who Are Pro-Life Advocates, File a Lawsuit Against the Biden Administration for Malicious Prosecution After Being Targeted by an FBI Raid

Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck and his wife Ryan-Marie Houck are seeking $4.3 million in damages from the Biden administration, accusing the Justice Department and FBI of targeting him over his anti-abortion views. Mr. Houck is seeking $1.1 million in damages for malicious and retaliatory prosecution, false arrest, abuse of process, and assault, citing the September 2022 raid on his rural Pennsylvania home in front of his wife and seven children by at least a dozen heavily armed FBI agents. His wife is suing for $3.25 million for severe emotional and physical distress that resulted in three miscarriages triggered by the stress of the FBI’s conduct and resulting prosecution, according to the notice of claim filed with the department’s torts branch.

According to the notice, “The stress of these events has taken an immense toll on her body — such a significant toll that she had three miscarriages from the stress. Doctors have now diagnosed her with infertility. So alongside the trauma, paranoia, and anxiety she has suffered, she now carries the grief of losing three children and the pain of infertility.”

Mr. Houck was charged last year with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act for pushing a Planned Parenthood volunteer in October 2021 after the man confronted him twice and yelled at his 12-year-old son as they engaged in sidewalk counseling for a nearby pro-life pregnancy center. Local authorities declined to prosecute, and a Philadelphia jury acquitted him of the federal charges in January.

The 28-page claim states, “Upon information and belief, the purpose of the prosecution was to punish and chill speech and religious exercise by Mr. Houck and other pro-life advocates and volunteers for pro-life clinics, which senior leadership at the Department of Justice viewed as ‘predatory,’ unworthy of FACE Act and constitutional protection, and indeed, necessary to punish.”

The Institute for Law and Justice at 40 Days for Life, a pro-life group for which Mr. Houck has volunteered since 2007, is handling the Houcks’ case. Shawn Carney, CEO of 40 Days for Life, expressed his support for Mr. Houck, stating that his arrest was not just a horrible day for Mark Houck, but also a bad day for America and its citizens. He criticized the alleged bias and hostility of the DOJ towards pro-life and Catholic Americans, calling it a recent and dangerous phenomenon.

The claim filed by attorneys from Graves Garrett LLC in Kansas City, Missouri, was dated Oct. 30, but the legal action was announced Wednesday.

The Biden administration has not commented publicly on the Houcks’ claim. The complaint comes as the Biden administration is accused of bias for aggressively pursuing FACE Act charges against at least 34 pro-life protesters following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in 2022. Meanwhile, the department has brought only a handful of charges in the nearly 90 attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers, including arson, smashed windows, and threatening graffiti messages like “if abortion isn’t safe, you aren’t either.” Attorney General Merrick Garland acknowledged the disparity at a Senate hearing in March but said the pro-choice vandals were tougher to catch because they operate at night in secret, unlike pro-life protesters.

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