Pope Francis Condemns Abortion: Woman’s “Right to Choose” Can Never “Justify Terminating a Life”

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 8, 2016   |   3:28PM   |   Washington, DC

In a much-anticipated apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s position on the sanctity of life for unborn babies.

The newly released papal document Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) did not make any doctrinal changes, as some liberals hoped it would, according to the International Business Times. The 60,000-word apostolic exhortation addressed a number of issues related to the family, including abortion, divorce and same-sex marriage, the report states.

This is what the papal document had to say about abortion, according to the report:

On the subject of abortion, the document states the church’s commitment to its anti-abortion stance, adding that no woman’s “right to choose” over what happens to their own body can “justify terminating a life”.

It also states that healthcare workers in [facilities that perform abortions] should exercise their right to conscientiously object to abortion.

The New Statesman reports more from the document about abortion and euthanasia:

The pope also criticises state action on abortion and contraception:

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The Church strongly rejects the forced State intervention in favour of contraception, sterilization and even abortion. Such measures are unacceptable even in places with high birth rates, yet also in countries with disturbingly low birth rates we see politicians encouraging them.Elsewhere, he cites euthanasia and assisted dying as “serious threats to families worldwide”. He says the church “firmly [opposes] these practices” but should ” assist families who take care of their elderly and infirm members”.

The pope also encouraged families to consider adopting unwanted children to help end abortion:

179. Adoption is a very generous way to become parents. I encourage those who cannot have children to expand their marital love to embrace those who lack a proper family situation. They will never regret having been generous. Adopting a child is an act of love, offering the gift of a family to someone who has none. It is important to insist that legislation help facilitate the adoption process, above all in the case of unwanted children, in order to prevent their abortion or abandonment. Those who accept the challenge of adopting and accepting someone unconditionally and gratuitously become channels of God’s love. For he says, “Even if your mother forgets you, I will not forget you” (Is 49:15)

Pope Francis often has spoken about unborn babies since he was elected in 2013. Initially, some feared he would water down Catholic Church teachings on abortion and other issues, but he has been a strong advocate for life.