Inside Politics: Hobby Lobby says it will defy Obama contraception mandate

An attorney for Hobby Lobby Stores said Thursday that the arts-and-crafts chain plans to defy a federal mandate requiring it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill, despite risking potential fines of up to $1.3 million per day.

Hobby Lobby and religious bookseller Mardel Inc., which are owned by the same conservative Christian family, are suing to block part of the federal health care law that requires employee health care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency-contraception pills.

“The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees,” Kyle Duncan, who is representing Hobby Lobby on behalf of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement posted on the group’s website Thursday. “To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”

On Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied the companies’ request for an injunction while their lawsuit is pending.

TEXAS

Bush spokeswoman makes light of boss’s health situation

HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush, who has been hospitalized for more than a month, is getting excellent medical treatment and would advise people to “put the harps back in the closet,” his longtime Houston chief of staff said Thursday evening.

But Jean Becker also pointed out in her statement that the 88-year-old Mr. Bush is sick and likely will be in the hospital for a while after a “terrible case of bronchitis, which then triggered a series of complications.”

Mr. Bush, the oldest living former president, has been in intensive care since Sunday. He was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston on Nov. 23 for treatment of what his spokesman, Jim McGrath, described as a “stubborn” cough.

Ms. Becker said “most of the civilized world” contacted her Wednesday after disclosures Mr. Bush had been placed in the intensive-care unit after physicians were having difficulty bringing a fever under control.

In the at-times lighthearted statement that made multiple references to jokes and the former president’s sense of humor, she said updates about Mr. Bush’s condition have been limited “out of respect for President Bush and the Bush family who, like most of us, prefer to deal with health issues in privacy.” She said another factor was “because he is so beloved we knew everyone would overreact.”

POLL

Gallup: NRA’s approval rating stands at 54 percent

The National Rifle Association, which has become entangled in the national debate over gun control in the wake of the recent shootings in Newtown, Conn., has a 54 percent favorability rating among Americans, according to Gallup.

Thirty-eight percent disapprove of the powerful gun lobbying group. Its favorability rating, tracked since 1993, has fluctuated from a low of 42 percent in 1995 to a high of 60 percent in 2005, the polling organization said.

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