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Hobby Lobby files brief with Supreme Court in HHS mandate case

Arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking protection from a federal mandate that requires coverage of contraceptives in workers' health insurance plans.

The brief, filed Monday, called the mandate "one of the most straightforward violations ... this court is likely to see" of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

Under the Affordable Health Care law, most employers' health plans must include free coverage of contraceptives, sterilizations and other types of birth control opponents say can induce an abortion.

New study on abortion rate doesn't tie drop to new state restrictions

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Almost two weeks after the national March for Life rally in Washington, the Guttmacher Institute reported a 13 percent drop in national abortion rates from 2008 to 2011 -- making for the lowest rate since 1973 when abortion on demand was legalized in the U.S.

However, "no evidence was found" of a correlation between the declining rate and new abortion restrictions set between 2008 and 2011, said the study released Feb. 3.

Prayer breakfast speeches focus on international outreach

President Barack Obama and the administrator of the principal overseas U.S. aid agency urged people at the National Prayer Breakfast to turn their prayers and good works beyond the U.S. borders.

Speaking to the annual gathering Thursday, Rajiv Shah, keynote speaker and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, challenged the audience of about 3,500 people from around the world to "an overarching purpose worthy of this room that has come together to follow the teachings of Jesus: Let us work together to end extreme poverty in our lifetime."

Catholic advocates find little to praise in farm bill passed by House

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The House passed a five-year farm bill Wednesday, more than a year after the 2008 farm bill expired and two days before an extension of the prior measure was to expire.

While Catholic groups and other rural advocates were urging passage of a farm bill, their support for this House version of the bill was muted, largely because of an $8 billion cut in food stamps and the deleting of agricultural reform measures from the version of the bill that came out of a joint House-Senate conference committee.

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April 11-24, 2014

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