A New York chapter of an Irish-American Catholic group is now tussling with one of the state’s newly elected Democratic senators over his affirmative vote on an abortion law that has drawn the ire of faith leaders.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians JFK Division IV – based in Huntington – recently wrote to State Sen. James Gaughran to inform him that he was no longer invited to their festivities honoring St. Patrick’s Day, over his support of the law. The Reproductive Health Act, which was passed in New York in late January, changes the state’s law to allow women to receive abortions up to birth if their health is determined to be at risk.
“The membership is dismayed that a member of their order could vote for such a law that, in fact, allows for infanticide,” Rev. Msgr. Steven R. Camp, the chaplain of the group and pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in Huntington, said in a letter obtained by Huntington Now. “This law violates all the principles the AOH has ascribed to since its founding, adherence to the principles of our Roman Catholic faith, and the security of the Irish race.
“At our recent meeting, a resolution was put forth and passed unanimously by the membership, to rescind your invitation to the Annual Grand Marshal Dinner Dance on March 8th as well as to march in the Annual Parade, with the Hibernians, on March 10th,” he added.
Gaughran, in response, wrote that he found it “troubling and contrary to the principle that our elected officials must represent all their constituents, not just those with whom they share their religious beliefs.
“Regarding the Reproductive Health Act, I made clear this year — as I have in years past — that I would support this legislation and had many conversations with voters about it,” he said.
Gaughran also claimed he has not renewed his membership in the group, nor does he consider himself an active member.
“We may disagree on these issues, but please understand that I do truly respect and appreciate your positions,” he said, according to Huntington Now. “While I was saddened that no effort was made to discuss this matter with me prior to the Division’s decision, I hope that this may serve as an impetus to open a dialogue where we can work together for the betterment of all our neighbors.”