Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan has come to the defence of embattled Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, saying he admires the South Australian for taking a stand on his beliefs.
Senator Bernardi has attracted widespread criticism this week – including from some within his own party – for a new book in which he accuses some women of using abortion as "an abhorrent form of birth control" and rails against "non-traditional" family arrangements such as step-families, single-parent families and same-sex parent families.
Senator Madigan, Parliament's most prominent anti-abortion MP, said he had ordered a copy of Senator Bernardi's book The Conservative Revolution and would reserve his judgment until he had read it.
But he said he admired Senator Bernardi's bravery in airing his views, especially as he did not seem to have the full support of his party.
"People who have the guts to say what they think have my respect, whether I agree with their opinions or not," Senator Madigan said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Liberal MP Warren Entsch accused Senator Bernardi of having an "obsession" with gay people, reportedly prompting Senator Bernardi to seek legal advice.
On Wednesday, Liberal National Party Senator Sue Boyce said Senator Bernardi's remarks exposed a lack of compassion and "genuine Christianity".
While Coalition MPs have defended Senator Bernardi's right to air his views, none have publicly supported his sentiments.
On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's spokeswoman issued a one-sentence statement saying Senator Bernardi was a backbencher and his views did not represent the position of the government.
Senator Madigan said Senator Bernardi had been subjected to "vitriol" and this was "a dangerous development and hurts our democratic system."
"It is becoming increasingly obvious there is an element that does not believe in freedom of expression and the right of all individuals to hold a belief," he said.
Senator Madigan encouraged "men and women on all sides of politics" who shared his party's values on abortion and marriage to speak out.
He said Mr Abbott had not spoken about abortion since becoming Prime Minister and some people would wonder where he stood on the issue. He said the coalition must also decide where it stood on the issue of marriage.
"I am proud to say that the Democratic Labour Party will never waver on issues of life or marriage," he said.
"The DLP is pro-life and pro traditional marriage. Our beliefs and our stance are enshrined in our party's constitution and will not change with the seasons."
The story Under fire Senator Cory Bernardi finally finds supporter in John Madigan first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.