DUBLIN, January 26, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – With general elections expected to be called as early as February 25th, the leader of the main Irish opposition party has called for the legalization of abortion on demand in the pro-life country.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore told Irish public radio earlier this month that the Irish parliament must “face up to its responsibilities” and make abortion fully legal according to the English model. In Ireland the right to life of the unborn is included in the constitution, where it was placed by a popular referendum.

Liam Gibson, Northern Ireland development officer with the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview today that with the economy dominating the headlines, there is concern that abortion and other life issues are getting pushed to the back burner. But Gilmore’s forthrightness is actually helping draw attention to the issue of abortion, he said.

Currently the Irish economy in meltdown and the European Union is pressuring the government to resolve the debt crisis with extreme austerity measures. Jobs, mortgages, pensions and social security benefits are at the forefront of voters’ minds.

But with Gilmore making up-front declarations of war against the unborn, the public is going to be much more wary of Labour and much more aware of abortion as a significant election issue, said Gibson. 

“It’s probably good that he’s stating his intentions honestly. It will allow people to see exactly what they’re voting for.”

Gibson warned that the current government is facing a punishing election cycle, with many Irish intending to vote Labour as a protest.

“It would be an absolute disaster,” he said, to have a Labour government. “The Labour Party are dreadful on so many issues, but on abortion they’re totally out of step with the public. Even on economic issues they wouldn’t have the solutions”

“But as long as Gilmore keeps making abortion a major issue it’s going to galvanize pro-life opinion in the country.”

The current government is the first coalition Ireland has had in decades and the natural opposition would be a coalition of Labour with Fianna Fáil. Until recently, Gibson said, Fianna Fáil has been the strongest on life issues, but the party has begun to support the use of living embryos as human test subjects in embryonic stem cell research.

“The position of the pro-life movement in Ireland is very much the same as the Irish economy,” he said. “There’s no easy solution. A great deal of work and a lot of time are going to be needed to get things right and it’s going to be an uphill battle because none of the major parties have a prolife ethos any more.”

In addition, he said, the country is under a great deal of pressure from the European Union to legalize abortion, and with Ireland’s economic situation so fragile and so EU-dependent, that pressure will only increase.

“If Ireland can hold out,” Gibson said, “it will be a significant victory in Europe” for the unborn.

He pointed out, however, that Eamon Gilmore and other pro-abortion politicians would have a hard time getting abortion on demand, since it requires a public referendum to alter the constitution.

“There would be a huge uproar against any move like that.” Much more dangerous is the threat of incremental changes and undermining of the law by such methods as changing medical practice guidelines.

But Gilmore has done a favor to the pro-live campaigners, said Gibson. “Making it a black and white issue makes it much easier to alert people.”