- Former executive director of Catholics For a Free Choice (CFFC)
- Responsible for shifting CFFC's legal status from a lobby to an educational association, thereby making the group eligible for tax-exempt status
From 1979 to 1982, Patricia McMahon was the executive director of Catholics For a Free Choice (CFFC), a nonprofit organization composed of members who, though they identify themselves as followers of the Catholic faith, take positions contrary to their Church's doctrine on a number of weighty moral issues. For example, this group candidly approves of premarital sex, contraception, and most notably, abortion. CFFC's stated mission is "to ensure public recognition of the existence, in substantial numbers, of pro-choice Catholics." In short, CFFC depicts itself as a group of sincere, practicing Catholics who, after much moral soul-searching, have reluctantly but courageously chosen to embrace a "Catholic alternative" to the views endorsed by the Vatican and Catholic bishops. Yet CFFC is very far from being a group of devoted Catholics who love their faith but simply disagree with one or two of its doctrines. Rather, the group has worked diligently to eliminate the Holy See's Permanent Observer status at the United Nations. Moreover, it is run by radical feminists whose concerns are entirely political rather than religious, and it is funded almost wholly by a small number of foundations and wealthy individuals whose interest in Catholic causes is otherwise nonexistent.
According to current CFFC president Frances Kissling, McMahon persuaded the organization to hire her upon her return from a 1979 vacation in Ireland, where she "was shocked by the horrible conditions of women's lives - conditions imposed by the Church's anti-woman, anti-contraception mentality." As president, McMahon shifted CFFC's legal status from a lobby to an educational association, thereby making the group eligible for tax-exempt status, which opened the door to foundation support. Shortly thereafter, the Sunnen Foundation gave CFFC a $75,000 grant to fund the group's first publications, the Abortion in Good Faith series.