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Pope Francis says abortion is never OK and likens it to ‘hiring a hitman’

Pope Francis says abortion is never OK and likens it to ‘hiring a hitman’
The faithful reach out to Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 25. (Andrew Medichini / Associated Press)

Pope Francis said Saturday that abortion can never be condoned, even when the fetus is gravely sick or malformed, and urged doctors and priests to support families to carry such pregnancies to term.

During an audience with participants of a Vatican-sponsored anti-abortion conference, Francis said opposition to abortion isn't a religious issue but a human one: "Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem? Is it licit to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?"

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Francis denounced decisions to abort based on prenatal testing, saying a human being is "never incompatible with life."

Francis has spoken out strongly against abortion, though he has also expressed sympathy for women who have had them and made it easier for them to be forgiven.

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