Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has, correctly, today ruled out doing any deals with DLP Senator John Madigan over the latter’s attempt to introduce changes to abortion laws.

Madigan is, disgracefully, using the tragedy of s-x selective abortion (a problem in some developing countries) as a pretext for seeking to further regulate access to abortion in Australia. Madigan has not been able to produce any credible evidence that s-x-selective abortion is a problem here.

While Julia Gillard again attempted to exploit Abbott’s history on abortion this week, the Opposition Leader has persistently demonstrated that on this issue he has left his personal baggage behind. He has recognised that, as leader, there are some personal views he is no longer able to advocate in the way that he felt able to even as John Howard’s health minister, when he was a significant obstacle to women’s reproductive rights.

Critics claim Abbott is avoiding the issue until he is in office and in a position to enact his conservative social views. That can never be ruled out, but since Abbott has become his party leader, he has shown no interest in revisiting an issue that he knows is intensely problematic for him. The more likely explanation is that Abbott has matured as a political leader, even if his own personal views remain unchanged.

Peter Fray

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