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Morning headlines: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Republican Congressman Jim Shimkus.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Republican Congressman Jim Shimkus.

Shimkus on Obama's State of the Union address

President Barack Obama delivered an election-year message to Republicans: Game on.

The GOP - in Congress and on the campaign trail - signaled it's ready for the fight.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama issued a populist call for income equality that echoed the Occupy Wall Street movement. He also challenged GOP lawmakers to work with him or move aside so he could use the power of the presidency to produce results for an electorate uncertain whether he deserves another term.

Republican Congressman John Shimkus says despite the President’s rhetoric last night, his policies have driven the country further in debt with higher unemployment.

"Is the state of the union stronger or is it weaker?," said Shimkus. "I will argue that it is weaker. And because of that, that's why he is going to go into this campaign, as he's been doing the last couple of months, of dividing us instead of uniting us."

Obama faces a deeply divided Congress. He vowed to fight obstruction with action in a speech to a packed chamber and tens of millions of Americans watching in prime time.

State Senate endorses legislation aimed at preventing Mo. from implementing Obama's health care law

The bill given initial approval Tuesday would require legislative or voter approval for Missouri to take steps to set up a health insurance exchange. It would also prevent state departments from taking any federal money to prepare for an online insurance marketplace.

The federal law gives states until 2014 to either set up their  own insurance exchanges or have one run by the federal government.

The Missouri legislation was opposed by several Democratic senators, who said it was simply ceding control to the federal government. If legislators approve the bill, the proposal would go on the statewide ballot in November.

Abortions reportedly down in Illinois

Illinois health officials say the number of abortions reported in Illinois has reached a 37-year low. The Illinois Department of Public Health says 41,859 abortions were reported in Illinois in 2010. That's down 9 percent from 2009.

The Chicago Sun-Timesreports that's the lowest number since the procedure was legalized in the United States in 1973. That year, Illinois recorded 32,760 abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois President Carole Brite says she's pleased by the decrease but it's hard to say what caused it. She says increased information about and funding for contraception might be one reason.

Bill Beckman of the Illinois Right to Life Committee says more people are participating in anti-abortion rallies and the drop in abortions might reflect a shift in how the public views abortion.