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Excommunicated Planned Parenthood Chief Resigns

November 25, 1986 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Mary Ann Sorrentino, whose excommunication by the Roman Catholic Church became a national focal point of the abortion debate, announced Tuesday that she is resigning as executive director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island.

″I want to assure all of you that this change in career direction for me in no way represents any abandonment of my commitment to women and to their reproductive rights,″ Ms. Sorrentino said.

She said her resignation was effective May 1, 1987. Ms. Sorrentino said she is writing a book she hopes to publish next year and also will serve as a consultant to several pro-choice groups, including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

In January a priest disclosed on a cable television program that she had been ousted from the church because of her work at Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions and birth control counseling.

Ms. Sorrentino attacked the church’s decision, saying doctors and nurses who actually perform abortions and leading politicians who have fought for women’s rights to abortion had not been excommunicated.

The Diocese of Providence has defended the excommunication, saying Ms. Sorrentino effectively ousted herself by continuing to participate in abortions.

Despite her excommunication, Ms. Sorrentino said she has remained a practicing Catholic and has received Holy Communion, which is prohibited under excommunication.

Ms. Sorrentino was among the leaders of a coalition formed earlier this year to oppose a proposed anti-aborion amendment to the state constitution.

The proposal was defeated by more than a 2-to-1 margin.