Tony Abbott has found himself an unlikely defender and advocate in the form of Mia Freedman,former editor of Cosmopolitan, Cleo and Dolly magazines, and columnist for the Sun Herald and the Sunday Age. Freedman also has a regular spot on the Today Show, and hosts Mamamia Live on Sky News. She is editor and publisher of the highly popular Mamamia website.
With a history like this, Freedman has a big voice among women, and Tony Abbott will no doubt be glad to have her on his side.
It wasn’t always thus. In this article on the Mamamia site, Freedman explains that she was shocked to read a quote by her used without permission on the jacket of Susan Mitchell‘s new book about Abbott. The quote reads:“If he’s elected as our PM in the future I would be very scared for women everywhere.” Freedman made this statement in a piece she wrote in 2009 when Abbott became Leader of the Opposition. She is not happy that Mitchell’s publisher’s used it on the book without consulting her as she has changed her mind about Abbott in the ensuing period and does not hold the same views.
Over a breakfast with Abbott, brokered by Women’s Weekly editor Helen McCabe, Freedman writes that she came to respect and genuinely like Abbott very much, and that she likes his vibe. “I don’t believe Tony Abbott is a direct threat to women” she notes and goes on:
He did talk about his frustration at being constantly portrayed as king of the Catholics and the assumption that his personal faith would affect his policies. He spelled out that he is not opposed to contraception or IVF and that his views on abortion were not nearly as black and white as many people thought.
I asked him how and why he thought he had this image if it was inaccurate and he talked me through his views on that which were rooted in the RU486 vote in 2006 when he was health minister.
If Abbott’s views on abortion aren’t black and white, this is a complete contradiction of his views as expressed on his website in a piece titled “Rate of abortion highlights our moral failings,” in which he states: When it comes to lobbying local politicians, there seems to be far more interest in the treatment of boatpeople, which is not morally black and white, than in the question of abortion, which is.
It’s also worth reading the transcript of Abbott’s ABC radio interview on the RU-486 (morning-after-pill) issue, in which he fails to explain why he’s ignored the AMA’s recommendations for the release of this drug for use by Australian women, in the face of overwhelming international research proving its safety.
Until Tony Abbott makes public statements to the contrary, women would be most unwise to accept any assurances that he’s changed his mind on women’s reproductive rights, especially as they are so clearly set out on his website. There is no mistaking his position.
We need hard facts from Abbott and we need them soon. If Mr Abbott no longer sees abortion as a “black and white issue”, if Mr Abbott no longer views abortion as “a convenience for the mother” as he states on his website, then he needs to let us know.
In the meantime one has to wonder if Ms Freedman has read the piece on Abbott’s website, because the dissonance between what he has written there and what he has said to her is great. It’s a measure of the man’s profound and sickening duplicity that he uses Ms Freedman in an attempt to persuade women he has revised his views on abortion, while making no attempt to correct the quite contrary views expressed on his website.
- No U-turn on abortion: Abbott (theage.com.au)
- Book shows Abbott as ‘dangerous’ man (news.theage.com.au)