PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — The CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania has said that the clinic “escort” who was allegedly pushed by Catholic father and pro-life sidewalk counselor Mark Houck outside a Philadelphia abortion facility had violated Planned Parenthood’s own policies, Thomas More Society attorney Peter Breen revealed Tuesday night.
Breen also said that Houck himself will take the stand, even though he isn’t legally required to do so, because he is “confident in the rightness of his cause and the fact that he did nothing wrong.”
The updates come as the United States v. Houck trial, arguably one of the most critical criminal trials in the pro-life movement of this century, kicked off Tuesday and is slated to wrap up on Friday.
READ: Mark Houck heads to trial in one of the biggest pro-life cases of the century
The trial comes after the Biden administration’s Department of Justice carried out an FBI raid on Houck’s home last year, and charged him with two felonies for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act when he allegedly pushed abortion clinic “escort” Bruce Love during sidewalk altercations on two separate occasions.
Houck’s attorneys say the local pro-life leader pushed Love to protect his young son Mark Jr., whom the “escort” was verbally harassing using vulgar language.
They also argue that the FACE Act doesn’t even apply in Houck’s case, since Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, chief sponsor of the legislation, clearly stated that “Demonstrators, clinic defenders, escorts, and other persons not involved in obtaining or providing services in the facility may not bring such a cause of action.”
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Mark Houck, a pro-life Catholic father of 7, became the latest victim of an FBI raid and arrest on the morning of Friday September 23 — for supposed “FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act” violations — at his rural home as his children looked on “screaming.”
The arrest and raid stems from an altercation with a Planned Parenthood worker.
According to Mark’s wife Ryan-Marie, a “pro-abortion protester” would verbally harrass Mark’s 12-year old son — hurling vulgar and derogatory statements.
When the protestor encroached in the boy’s space, Mark defended his son. At that point, “Mark shoved him away from his child, and the guy fell back,” Ryan-Marie recounts.
The protestor was not injured, but he tried to sue Mark Houck for the assault but his case was thrown out of court in the early summer.
WE CANNOT ALLOW THE LEFT TO HARRASS PRO-LIFE ADVOCATES THIS WAY!
It’s vital to stand in solidarity with a pro-family and pro-life man being unjustly persecuted – please SIGN & SHARE our message of support now.
In case you hadn’t caught on already, the satanic Biden administration is waging war on Christians. https://t.co/E6ChpZVDYW
— Michael (X) Knowles ✊ (@michaeljknowles) September 24, 2022
The description of this arrest sounds like it took place in a totalitarian state. A tragic unraveling of Justice in America. https://t.co/e3vEID7E39
— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) September 25, 2022
If convicted, Houck faces up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000, according to the Justice Department.
Additional conservative pro-life leaders have weighed in — this is why we need your support ASAP.
“Just in the last few days we’ve seen some pretty glaring examples of what appear to be instances of DOJ [Department of Justice] overreach. You’ve got a Catholic father of seven who formed a group designed to encourage young men to be faithful to their commitments, arrested in front of his seven children just recently. You’ve got all these instances of overreach. It’s deeply concerning to us all. These are all things we’re gonna be looking into.” — US Senator Mike Lee
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Now, in a last-minute revelation, Planned Parenthood has distanced itself from Love, arguing the clinic escort had failed to follow proper protocols.
In a video update published by LifeSiteNews, Thomas More Society executive vice president and head of litigation Peter Breen said that “the CEO of Planned Parenthood revealed to the prosecution that, actually, they believe that Bruce Love had violated their own policies.”
“And so that issue came before the court today,” Breen said, explaining that his team was “provided that material last night on the eve of trial.”
“The fact that Planned Parenthood believes that Bruce Love violated its own clinic escort manual is a big deal,” Breen said. He explained that the revelation means that Love “didn’t just initiate an altercation with Mark and his son,” but additionally ran afoul of the very “policies he’s supposed to be following on the sidewalk as he did it.”
The attorney said that any legal argument that Love was acting “within his scope of employment… rings false because he was not acting even within those duties.”
The CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania has been added to the witness list, and will be cross-examined during Wednesday’s proceedings.
Houck himself will also take the stand, as will Mark Jr., who defense attorneys say had been “harassed by Mr. Love on that sidewalk on that fateful day.”
Breen said Houck “will take the stand to defend himself, even though…he’s not, you know, bound to do so under our system.”
“But he’s so confident in the rightness of his cause and the fact that he did nothing wrong, that he is willing to stand there, you know, sit there and raise his right hand and tell the jury exactly what happened that day as well,” the attorney added.
READ: Pro-lifers rally outside courthouse as Mark Houck’s trial begins
Providing additional updates regarding the court proceedings, Breen said Wednesday is “our big day for the openings” and said his team is also working to hammer out jury instructions after a successful jury selection process Tuesday that resulted in choosing 12 jurors and two alternates.
“The prosecution will open, the defense will open, and then we will go into the prosecution’s witnesses,” he said. “And we expect some very vigorous cross-examination coming from our side.”
He said the defense team anticipates wrapping up the closing arguments on Thursday, at which point they will “likely hand the case to the jury.”
Breen added that Houck and his wife Ryan-Marie “are so grateful for the prayers of folks across the country who are just thinking about them, praying for them and for our whole team as we go through this.”
“It’s difficult to imagine even what Mark and Ryan-Marie and their seven little kiddos are feeling and going through with this experience,” he said.
You can keep up with the updates on the Houck trial by following LifeSiteNews’ coverage as well as developments posted on the Thomas More Society’s website.