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WASHINGTON (RNS) Leaders from several prominent conservative Christian groups met Tuesday (March 24) with the head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to discuss ways to reduce abortions.
Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright sought the meeting with Joshua DuBois, executive director of the revamped White House office.
“It was cordial and there’s an opportunity for future meetings,” Wright said after the meeting, which lasted more than half an hour. “He did seem interested in the kinds of programs that are helping women and children.”
Conservative Christian groups have criticized the Obama administration for early policy actions such as opening federal funding to embryonic stem cell research and international family planning groups, and moving to rescind conscience protections for health care workers.
Wright, who called the freedom of conscience “fundamental to the American way of life,” said she brought up the conscience issue with DuBois and several White House staffers who attended the meeting. They also discussed programs that encourage men to be good fathers.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment. When the overhauled office was announced in February, the White House said its four target areas would be to poverty reduction, abortion reduction, responsible fatherhood and fostering interfaith dialogue with world leaders.
After DuBois agreed to the meeting in early March, Wright invited representatives of other conservative Christian groups to join her. A total of five people attended from Family Research Council, the Christian Medical Association and Care Net, a network of pregnancy centers that encourages women to continue their unexpected pregnancies.
Kristin Hansen, spokeswoman for Virginia-based Care Net, also said she hopes there will be additional meetings.
“We were grateful for the opportunity to sit down and dialogue,” she said. “We are grateful that reducing abortion is a priority for this administration. … It was a good atmosphere of listening on both sides and we hope to do it again.”
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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