As the issues of the legality and morality of abortion consume the national debate in the US, Pope Francis has thrown his weight behind the pro-life side, comparing the procedure to hiring an assassin.
The pontiff, who is known for his outspoken aversion to the practice, tore into the proponents of abortion as an inalienable human right. Speaking at an anti-abortion conference in the Vatican on Saturday, he argued that there is no excuse for taking away a human life – even in cases in which the fetus has a debilitating medical condition and the newborn might die at birth or shortly thereafter.
Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem? Is it licit to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?” Francis asked, stressing that a sick fetus should be provided with all possible care, as should the parents, who need to be prepared to cope with their loss.
“Taking care of these children helps parents to grieve and not only think of it as a loss, but as a step on a path taken together.”
Francis, as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, has not shied away from controversial comparisons before. Last October, he spoke along the same lines, equating abortion with “resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem.” Before that, he compared the practice with a version of the Nazi eugenics program.
While the Vatican’s rhetoric might sound extreme to pro-choice activists who fight against blanket bans on abortions, Francis has reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s centuries-old opposition to the practice, which it considers a mortal sin.
The strongly-worded remark from Francis comes as the issue is grabbing headlines in the US media after half a dozen states passed restrictive anti-abortion bills or are prepare to do so.