“The Justice Department works each day to earn the public’s trust by following the facts and the law wherever they may lead, without prejudice or improper influence,” according to the DOJ’s “about” page.1 Sadly, the values that the DOJ claims to espouse have been misplaced. The FBI is conducting early-morning raids—armored up and guns blazing—to arrest pro-life leaders in front of their children.
The Biden administration’s DOJ is now using the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act to persecute and intimidate pro-life sidewalk counselors and advocates. Passed in 1994, the FACE Act makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or to block a woman from obtaining an abortion. As of this writing, the number of pro-lifers targeted has surpassed 20 and is only expected to grow.
Meanwhile, despite pressure from FBI whistleblowers accusing their agency of allowing attacks on approximately 75 pro-life facilities and 86 churches, life-affirming pregnancy centers are bombed or vandalized with no arrests.
Rev. James Harden, CEO of CompassCare Pregnancy Services in New York, told Celebrate Life Magazine, “We are looking for the government to uphold civil order and justice, but they’re giving a pass to people creating instability in our society by attacking those that simply disagree with them. You have to wonder, What is so dangerous, so threatening about the pro-life belief that we have to be targeted for physical violence and political attack?”
On May 2, 2022, after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s draft leaked—which would then overturn Roe v. Wade—Rev. Harden noticed increased suspicious activity at his pregnancy centers and notified the Amherst Police Department and the FBI.
Meanwhile, an extremist group called Jane’s Revenge set fire to Wisconsin Family Action in Madison, Wisconsin, leaving a graffiti message that said, “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you!” No one was hurt, but Jane’s Revenge issued a warning to crisis pregnancy centers demanding that all “anti-choice establishments” shut down within 30 days.
Thirty days later, on June 7, 2022, Jane’s Revenge firebombed Harden’s CompassCare in Eggertsville, New York, at 2:30 am, causing a half million dollars of damage. Taking credit for the deed, the group wrote “Jane was here” on the building. A few days later in a communique, Jane’s Revenge officially took responsibility and made another threat. According to Rev. Harden, the group threatened: “Next time, if you don’t shut down, it won’t be as easy to clean up as fire and graffiti.”
Despite threats from Jane’s Revenge, the Eggertsville CompassCare reopened 52 days later.
Although the blaze injured two firefighters, the Amherst Police Department and the FBI didn’t consider CompassCare’s bombing a priority. The police also denied Rev. Harden access to view his center’s security video of the firebombing. On June 24, 2022, Rev. Harden asked the FBI to allocate additional law enforcement resources to protect pro-life people in organizations.
“They hung up on me,” recalls the reverend, whose family was also doxed by pro-abortion extremists.
On October 12, 2022, Representative Chip Roy and Senator Mike Lee—and 38 of their House and Senate colleagues—sent FBI director Christopher Wray an open letter questioning why the FBI was weaponizing the FACE Act against innocent pro-lifers and ignoring the attacks on 72 pregnancy centers and 80 Catholic churches.2 On that same day, the FBI called Rev. Harden to schedule a time to see the surveillance tapes.
“Once we saw the whole tape—about a minute and a half—we recognized it was a hit job,” Rev. Harden says. “These people were professionals. They looked choreographed.”
Two dads persecuted by the FBI
In the early morning of September 23, 2022, Ryan-Marie Houck of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, heard a noise, looked out her window, and saw her lawn and driveway swarming with armed and shielded FBI agents.
“Open up,” yelled the FBI agents, pounding her front door.
Ryan-Marie’s husband, Mark Houck, replied “Who is it?” to agents on the other side of the closed door. Unlike his wife, he didn’t realize it was the FBI.
In a video posted on ThomasMoreSociety.org, Ryan-Marie describes her husband pleading with the FBI agents twice, saying, “Please, I have seven babies in the house; I am going to open the door.”
Mark opened the door, and in ran agents with guns pointed at him, his wife, and children. Agents handcuffed him in front of his screaming children, arresting him without a warrant.
They arrested Mark because he had allegedly assaulted a male abortion clinic escort. While sidewalk counseling at a Pennsylvania abortion clinic, Mark pushed the escort, who refused to stop antagonizing his 12-year-old son. The local authorities dropped the bogus case against Houck; however, nearly a year later, the DOJ brought a federal charge against him.
On October 5, 2022, in another early morning raid, the FBI arrested Paul Vaughn at his Centreville, Tennessee, home. Like the Houck family, Vaughn’s 11 children and wife felt traumatized by the FBI agents.
Vaughn, president of Personhood Tennessee, told Celebrate Life Magazine, “Having armed agents show up at your door, banging on the door when you’re about to take kids to school, is a life-changing event. You don’t expect that to happen in America.”
Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, told Celebrate Life Magazine, “In both situations, you have children involved. What happens if one of them takes off running, or one of them brings out an air gun or a toy pistol in a hot, heavily charged situation like that?”
Agents took Vaughn to a federal facility and waited six hours before informing him of the reason for his arrest: He was indicted because, on March 5, 2021, he and a group of pro-lifers were praying at the Carafem Health Clinic in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Some of the group, not including Vaughn, sat in front of the doors of the abortion provider.
Even though Vaughn wasn’t blocking access, he believed the DOJ saw him as a leader and wanted to make an example of him. “I was in front of the cameras speaking to the press about [why they were at the abortion clinic],” Vaughn explains. “I was speaking for those that can’t speak for themselves on two fronts: for the babies and for those that were arrested. They [DOJ] saw me as some kind of leader.”
Vaughn and Houck—both of whom have no prior convictions—are facing 11 years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000 for violating the FACE Act.
“The FACE Act is supposed to be six months for a first offense and a little more for a second offense,” says Breen. “They’re also charging them as conspiracies to violate rights. In Mark’s case, that’s charging him with causing bodily harm to this abortion escort who harassed his son. In Paul’s case, we’ve got a conspiracy to violate rights.”
Breen adds, “The law comes out of the Ku Klux Klan, so the DOJ is comparing good pro-lifers to folks that would violate people’s civil rights in the most aggressive and terrible ways.”
Why is the DOJ intimidating pro-lifers?
In Obama’s first term, his administration tried and failed to make two FACE Act convictions stick against pro-lifers in Colorado and Florida. However, “We never saw such abuse of the FACE Act as we have in the Biden administration,” says Breen.
He adds, “With Mark and Paul, you’ve got two people—both of whom did not violate the FACE Act—who were picked up in an overtly aggressive and potentially dangerous way. So that excessive use of show of force was really, truly meant to intimidate.”
Breen thinks the Department of Justice is trying to strike fear in the hearts of sidewalk counselors and prayer vigil participants across this country. Concerned pro-lifers are calling him to inquire if they are risking their liberty and family by peacefully trying to give information to women at abortion clinics.
“The idea that we should be wasting law enforcement resources on this is crazy. You’ve got over 150 attacks on pro-life churches and pregnancy centers, and not a single arrest has been made. And we represent a number of those entities, and we’re not seeing the FBI make a lot of traction. With all the information that Big Tech and the federal government have on us, they can’t find even one of these people,” he remarks.
Since 2017, Dr. Monica Miller has made 30 forays into abortion clinics with the Red Rose Rescue to minister to women in abortion clinic waiting rooms—offering them a rose and a final opportunity to choose life for their preborn babies. She and other members have been arrested, but no group member has been charged with FACE Act violations. Miller—who has spent considerable time in jail due to pro-life activism—weighs in on the risks pro-lifers may face when trying to save lives, saying that it’s not easy to overcome the evils of abortion without personal sacrifice.
Dr. Miller told Celebrate Life Magazine, “We honestly have to face the fact that tremendous sacrifices are going to need to be made—financial sacrifices, sacrifices of time, sacrifices of our liberty—to combat this evil.”
Thankfully, those who risk their liberty to uphold the sacredness of human life have the Thomas More Society to turn to, to uphold their rights.
UPDATE: On January 31, 2023, Mark Houck was acquitted of all charges! We are thankful to God and to the attorneys who defended him and who got justice for Mark and his family. We pray that all others wrongly accused will also be acquitted.
1. The United States Department of Justice, About DOJ, Accessed December 5, 2022, justice.gov/about.
2. Letter to FBI regarding FACE Act, October 12, 2022, roy.house.gov/sites/evo-subsites/roy.house.gov/files/evo-media-document/final-roy-lee-letter-to-fbi-on-face-act.pdf.