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Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court and 'religious freedom'

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It's amazing what legal arguments that medical products related to sex can generate.

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, the companies that brought cases to the Supreme Court last week, believe that even though they are profit-making businesses, they exercise the rights of "religious freedom" and should be exempt from paying for employees' health insurance when it includes contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

Supreme Court takes up Hobby Lobby's challenge to the contraception mandate

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When two corporations -- one owned by evangelicals and one owned by Mennonites -- filed suit over the Affordable Care Act, they described their complaint in stark and fairly simple terms: The government is forcing them to either break the law or betray their faith.

But at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, nothing was so clear as the justices explored the murky territory where an employer's religious rights collide with the interests of its employees or the government.

California bishop urges Catholics to sign up for health insurance

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Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino urged Catholics in his diocese to comply with federal law and sign up for health insurance if they have not already done so.

In a March 11 letter, he said he wished to provide "some clarification and some direction regarding the new federal health care law."

"As you may know, the Affordable Care Act requires that all legal residents of the country carry health insurance by April 1. Failure to comply with this law will result in fines that increase progressively each year," he wrote.

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.

Behind-the-scenes Baltimore sisters unlikely face of ongoing contraception battle

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The Little Sisters of the Poor have been a fixture in Baltimore for many years. They are a behind-the-scenes order ministering lovingly to the elderly in the community, including many elderly priests. I'm pretty sure that none of their members or those they minister to has any direct issues related to contraception. Yet they have wound up in the spotlight of the battle with the Obama administration over the mandate to offer contraceptive services as part of the insurance packages offered by the Affordable Care Act.

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April 11-24, 2014

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