PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — Two weeks after the Biden administration carried out a guns-drawn FBI raid against pro-life dad Mark Houck, defiant pro-freedom advocates on Friday gathered in Philadelphia to support Houck and stand against the federal government’s intimidation of pro-life conservatives.
LifeSiteNews’ Jim Hale was at the rally, which took place just around the corner from Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed.
Attendees vowed not to be discouraged by the Biden administration’s use of federal law enforcement to harass pro-life Americans and told Hale they would keep fighting.
“We will not stop fighting for the lives of Pennsylvania’s unborn children no matter how many guns the federal government points at us,” said pro-life advocate and Houck family friend Ashley Garecht to rousing applause.
“Those in power in the government are promoting all of this insanity, this godlessness,” said Fr. Jim Hutchins, a retired priest from the Diocese of Philadelphia.
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Kathy Barnette, a former Pennsylvania Senate candidate whose mother’s decision to choose life for her despite a tragic pregnancy helped form her own pro-life perspective, told LifeSite the purpose of the Biden administration’s assault on pro-lifers is to “overwhelm the system.”
“[It’s] to cause us to get exhausted, to be fearful, to stick our head in the sand, and feel overwhelmed,” she said. “It is at that moment that we need to get on our knees, that we need to begin to walk and talk with the Lord, and we need to begin to ask the question: What can I do?”
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“We need to keep doing our job, which is to protect innocent life, stand up for the sanctity of human life, never to be silent” Pro-Life Union board member Patrick Stanton said, adding that pro-lifers pray outside abortion facilities in Philadelphia every day that they are open.
“We not only stand up for life, we vote, [and] we march. Those three things,” he said. “We’re not stopping.”
The rally in Pennsylvania came in response to the FBI’s raid on Houck, a pro-life leader and father of seven whose arrest made national news late last month after LifeSiteNews broke the original story.
As LifeSite reported, heavily armed FBI agents surrounded the Houck family’s rural Pennsylvania home in the early morning on September 23, reportedly terrorizing their children before taking Houck into custody.
The arrest stemmed from an alleged altercation between Houck and an abortion clinic “escort” outside a downtown Philadelphia Planned Parenthood abortion facility last year when Houck, a pro-life sidewalk counselor, was protesting along with his then-12-year-old son.
Prosecutors allege Houck assaulted the employee, but Houck’s attorney and wife say he pushed the man to protect his son, whom the man had been “harassing” using “crude … inappropriate and disgusting” language.
Houck now faces two felony charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which could lead to up to 11 years in prison and fines totaling as much as $350,000. He has been ordered to surrender or refrain from obtaining a passport or firearms as a condition of his release on $10,000 bail.
Houck has pleaded not guilty to both charges lodged against him.
The pro-life dad’s arrest at the hands of the Biden administration’s FBI comes after U.S. President Joe Biden suggested pro-life Christians posed an existential threat to the nation in his now-infamous speech in front of Independence Hall last month.
READ: FBI raid on pro-life dad Mark Houck: Part of the Biden admin’s terror campaign against conservative Christians
In the past weeks and months, the FBI has carried out a series of raids against conservative Americans, up to and including the former president of the United States.
In August, the FBI raided the Florida home of former President Donald Trump. Last month, in addition to carrying out a guns-drawn raid on Houck, the FBI served search warrants or subpoenas against dozens of Trump allies, and indicted pro-life Catholic priest Fr. Fidelis Moscinski on federal charges.
Last week, the DOJ hit 11 pro-life activists, including an 87-year-old survivor of a communist concentration camp, with federal charges for a peaceful protest at a Nashville, Tennessee abortion facility. At least one of the pro-lifers, Paul Vaughn (a father of 11), was arrested by the FBI at gunpoint at his home last week.
“It’s nothing more than suppressing free speech,” Vaughn told The Daily Signal. “It’s the same thing going on nationwide. If you’re right-of-center, conservative American-loving patriot, the Department of Justice is looking to silence that kind of thought.”