Speaking at an anti-abortion conference sponsored by the Vatican, the Pontiff added that a termination is never acceptable, even when the foetus is gravely ill or malformed.
Condemning decisions taken to abort based on prenatal testing, he said a human being was “never incompatible with life”.
Doctors and priests should support families to carry such pregnancies to term, he commented.
He told those attending the event: “Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem? Is it licit to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?”
Francis says a life should not be ‘thrown away’ to ‘resolve a problem’
If a baby is expected to die at birth or soon after, he said it should get medical care in the womb, adding that there was value in such an approach for the parents.
“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 said.
It is not the first time he has used such strong language. Last year, he was condemned after comparing an abortion to hiring a “contract killer”.
While strongly denouncing abortion, he has also expressed sympathy for women who have had a termination and made it easier for them to be forgiven.