During the last couple of days I’ve heard a few women praising Peta Credlin’s bravery in coming out about her IVF treatments. Her unflinching account of how her boss, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, allowed her to store her fertility drugs in his fridge and not only that, sacrificed his private bathroom in support of her pursuit of motherhood will, these commentators claim, inspire so many women who are enduring the same arduous and testing journey towards reproduction.
Then, as The Australian columnist Cassandra Wilkinson explained on The Drum last evening, Credlin has courageously shown us that even powerful women with successful careers have their troubles, just in case we nastily thought their lives were perfect.
I would be more inclined to feel compassion for Credlin’s circumstances were I not so mightily offended by the manner in which she has chosen to reveal them. Usually when I read stories about the IVF process in which a partner is involved, there is somewhere in the account a mention or more of the person who is sharing the journey. Quite frequently there are photos of both parties, and the supporting partner usually has something to say.
In Credlin’s coming out, as reported in the mainstream media, the photos are of her and Tony Abbott. She makes no reference to her husband, Brian Loughnane, Federal Director of the Australian Liberal Party, but speaks glowingly of Abbott’s compassionate and patient understanding of what she is going through.
Of course, Mr Loughnane may not have wanted to participate in his wife’s gut spilling. After all, a husband in the story would detract from Tony Abbott’s role and on the face of it, Tony’s role in the couple’s pursuit of parenthood appears to have precedence over their own. Tony Abbott has the starring role in Loughnane and Credlin IVF story. In the mainstream media Loughnane, husband and hopefully father to be, doesn’t get a mention.
I find this disturbingly dysfunctional. Isn’t there something just too weird about a husband being usurped by a boss in a woman’s IVF story?
Then, in case you find me cynical, Abbott next takes the golden opportunity created for him by Peta to beg understanding from the general public. People who know him understand his views on IVF, abortion and contraception, we’re told by both him and Credlin, but the punters haven’t got a clue. Well, whose fault is that?
It’s important, Tony continues, for people who know his real views to speak out about them. Why? Why doesn’t he speak out about them himself? Why hasn’t he been speaking out on abortion, for example, given that women find him ill-informed and offensive on matters that relate to our health and well-being. If he wants to change our perceptions, why doesn’t he just come right out and tell us his views instead of asking other women who are related to him or work for him to do it on his behalf? That tactic is certainly not going to endear him to us any time soon.
This piece on his website from 2005, for example. Titled “Rate of abortion highlights our moral failings” it is all we have to go on, and what a vile piece of woman-hating propaganda-disguised-as-concern it is. Abbott may well have made statements about his views on abortion since that time, but they are not written down, and as he himself famously stated, we can believe nothing he says unless he writes it down.
It is really quite baffling, that a man who claims his views have so radically changed does absolutely nothing to address that change on his website.
Then up pops Christopher Pyne, falling over himself in his slavering anxiety to tell us how Tony supported him and his wife through their “IVF trauma.” By god, Tony even went against the Catholic church’s teachings in order to do this!
So what next? Can we expect a woman who has been supported by Tony Abbott as she went through the process of pregnancy termination to come forward and tell us how he held her hand? Has Tony Abbott ever spoken to women about their abortion experiences, I wonder?
IVF is no joke, I’m sure. A woman needs all the help she can get to go through it, I’m sure. I don’t think Peta Credlin and Tony Abbott have done anything much to encourage and support women and their partners who are on this journey. Indeed, I think they have, by using this story for political gain, shown once again that nowhere in a personal life is there an exploitation-free zone, whether they choose that exposure for themselves, or inflict it on others.