Pope Francis has said abortion can never be condoned, even when the foetus is gravely sick or malformed.
During an audience with participants of a Vatican-sponsored anti-abortion conference, Francis said opposition to abortion is not a religious issue but a human one.
He asked: “Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem?
"Is it licit to hire a hitman to resolve a problem?”
He urged doctors and priests to support families to carry such pregnancies to term.
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, although he has also expressed sympathy for women who have had them and made it easier for them to be forgiven.