The head of the Catholic Church has equated getting an abortion for medical reasons with hiring a contract killer. German officials have condemned such rhetoric, saying it is "absolutely unacceptable."
Speaking at a conference at the Vatican, Pope Francis on Saturday decried abortion as a way to deal with fetuses with serious illnesses.
"Never ever eliminate a human life or hire a hit man to resolve a problem," said the pope. "Abortion is never the answer that women and families seek."
Instead, the pope said church leaders and communities needed to do more for families expecting a child with serious health issues.
"Every child is a gift that changes the history of a family," Francis added. "This child needs to be welcomed, loved and cared for."
It isn't the first time the pope has used the term "hit man" or "contract killer" when talking about abortion.
Last year, the pope said: "Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem."
His remarks drew a fierce backlash from German officials and members of the medical community.
German Family Affairs Minister Franziska Giffey at the time criticized the pope, saying women do not take the decision lightly.
"Stigmatizing these women as contract killers is absolutely unacceptable," Giffey said. "Accusations and insults are the wrong way."
ls/sms (AFP, AP)