Pope Francis has encouraged women in Argentina to protest against a new law decriminalising abortion, comparing the procedure to ‘hiring a hitman’.
Francis, who hails from Argentina and was a bishop in Buenos Aires before becoming Pope, made the remarks in a letter to the protesters earlier this week.
The 83-year-old told the protesters that ‘the country is proud to have women like you’ and encouraged them to keep fighting against the new law.
The women wrote to Francis on November 18, saying that they first organised their protest in 2018 when abortion legislation was being debated in parliament.
The debate was then reignited last week when President Alberto Fernandez presented a bill that would make the procedure ‘legal, safe and free’ for women across the country.
The women, who live in a shanty town in Buenos Aires, claimed that their voices are being ingored amid the national debate and called on Francis to help them.
In a handwritten response, sent on November 22, Francis wrote: ‘The problem of abortion is not primarily a question of religion, but of human ethics, first and foremost of any religious denomination.
‘It is good to ask two questions: Is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a killer to solve a problem,’ he wrote.
President Alberto Fernandez announced earlier this month that he would present a bill to legalise abortion, saying it would save lives by preventing women from resorting to unsafe, clandestine procedures.
Francis’s native country currently criminalises abortion except in the case of rape or risk to the mother’s health.
Mr Fernandez campaigned on promises he would propose legislation to legalise it, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed movement on the proposal until this month.
Francis has strongly upheld Catholic doctrine forbidding abortion, denouncing it as part of today’s ‘throwaway culture’ that doesn’t respect the dignity of the unborn, the weak or elderly.
He has, however, offered a merciful approach to women who have resorted to abortion, allowing mere priests and not just bishops to absolve them if they seek forgiveness.