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Abbott defends Credlin IVF interview

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his chief of staff Peta Credlin.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his chief of staff Peta Credlin. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has defended his top adviser for going public with her struggles about IVF treatment, saying it was important to be ''honest and upfront about these things''.

In Brisbane on Tuesday, Mr Abbott told reporters that his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, had given an interview about her struggles with fertility treatment to support other Australian women in similar situations.

''I am full of admiration for the way she was prepared to come and tell a difficult, personal story as a way of supporting those women who are going through something that is often difficult, painful and frustrating,'' he said.

''I think it was very important for my chief of staff to tell her story.''

Ms Credlin has given interviews with News Limited papers and Marie Claire magazine in which she discusses her battle with IVF and defends her boss against sexism - describing his support for her treatment and arguing his views on issues such as abortion and contraception are more nuanced than reported.

This comes as the Coalition tries to counter the Labor attack that Mr Abbott has a ''woman problem,'' that has ramped up in the wake of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's ''misogyny'' speech last year.

But when asked on Tuesday if he had encouraged Ms Credlin to tell her story, the Opposition Leader said: ''I think that the last thing that I would ever do with a strong and capable woman is to try to influence the very personal decisions that she makes.''

He added that people ''who know me well, well understand my position'' on gender issues.

''I think it's very important for the people who know someone to say what needs to be said.''

Ms Credlin's comments coincide with an opinion piece Mr Abbott wrote for News Limited papers at the weekend, arguing he has never been opposed to IVF.

On Monday, Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne also spoke up about Mr Abbott's support of his and his wife Carolyn's five-year IVF treatment, which led to the birth of their twins in 2000.

Labor has been sceptical about Mr Abbott's recent discussion of fertility issues.

On Sunday, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the Opposition Leader was clearly trying to fix his image problem with women.

''I think it's clear from these sorts of stories that the Liberal Party research must be showing that Mr Abbott does have a problem with women and that he is trying to do something about it.''

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