Agnes Mary Mansour, 73, who abandoned her religious vows in a showdown with the Vatican over abortions for low-income women, died of undisclosed causes Friday at a Sisters of Mercy assisted-living facility in Farmington Hills, Mich.
A nun in the order for 30 years, Mansour in the 1980s headed the Michigan welfare agency that oversaw Medicaid funding for abortions for the poor. A representative of Pope John Paul II gave her an ultimatum to either resign as Department of Social Services director or be dismissed from the Sisters of Mercy. She asked to be released from her vows.
Mansour said she personally disapproved of abortion but believed that as long as it was legal, poor women should have the same access to the procedure as those who could afford to pay for it.
Highly respected for her work with welfare recipients, she was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 1988.