Coalition MP Christopher Pyne has spoken of his family's IVF battle. Photo: Andrew Meares
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has spoken about how Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was ''extraordinarily supportive'' during the five years he and his wife went through IVF, saying it is a ''myth'' that Mr Abbott is against the treatment.
This comes in the wake of an opinion piece by Mr Abbott at the weekend, in which he argues he has never been opposed to the fertility treatment and an interview given by his top adviser, Peta Credlin, in which she defends her boss against sexism claims and talks about her own IVF treatment.
Mr Pyne told The Australian newspaper on Monday that Mr Abbott had supported the Liberal MP and his wife Carolyn through five years of IVF, which led to the birth of their twins Barnaby and Eleanor in 2000.
''He was only ever extraordinarily supportive, often raising the subject and being encouraging, hoping it would all be a great success,'' Mr Pyne said.
Mr Pyne added that Mr Abbott was critical of the Catholic Church's stance against IVF.
''His view was the church's position was simply misguided and that there was nothing more important or exciting than the birth of children and if IVF could help bear children, then it was a good thing not bad.''
Ms Credlin, who is the Opposition Leader's chief of staff, has also taken the unusual step of speaking to women's magazine Marie Claire, describing her boss as deeply supportive of her efforts to have a child through IVF with her husband, the federal director of the Liberal Party, Brian Loughnane. This included keeping her fertility drugs in his parliamentary office fridge.
The normally private Ms Credlin, 41, told the magazine Mr Abbott's views on abortion, contraception and IVF were far more balanced and nuanced than many people believe.
But the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, said Mr Abbott was clearly trying to fix his image problem with women. Australians would ultimately judge him on his public comments over his nearly two decades in politics, she said.
''Mr Abbott is not a new figure on the public field,'' Ms Roxon said on Sunday. ''He has many years of record to stand by and those are the things that people rightly will judge him on.
''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.''
Asked whether Ms Credlin was part of a cynical ploy to win female votes, Ms Roxon said it was up to individuals whether they told their personal stories.
In her interview, Ms Credlin said she asked Mr Abbott about his views before she agreed to work with him in 2010 and was satisfied with his answers.
In a weekend opinion piece for News Limited papers, Mr Abbott described how it was a ''persistent myth'' that he had been opposed to IVF.
''I have never been opposed to IVF. How could any pro-family politician not want to encourage people to have children and to make it easier for them to do so?''
The latest bid to reassure Australian women about Mr Abbott's attitudes follows the entry of Mr Abbott's wife, Margie, into political debate as well as his sister, Christine Forster.