Pope defends doctors who refuse abortions

Pope defends doctors who refuse abortions
Abortion was among the topics discussed by President Barack Obama and Pope Francis during their first meeting on Thursday. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP
Pope Francis defended the right of doctors who refuse to perform abortions in the United States during talks with US President Barack Obama on Thursday, the Vatican said.

"There was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection," it said in a statement.

President Obama and Pope Francis also agreed a "common commitment" to eradicate human trafficking during a historic first meeting and discussed immigration reform, the Vatican said.

They also underlined the need for international law to be respected in conflict zones around the world and for "a negotiated solution between the parties involved," the statement said.

In January, the pope issued his strongest condemnation yet of abortion, saying it was a sign of a "throwaway culture".

READ MORE HERE: 'Abortion is a sign of a throwaway culture': Pope

Although abortion is legal in Italy, access to the medical procedure can be extremely difficult for women.

Lives have also been risked after doctors refused to perform the procedure.

In 2010, an Italian woman was forced to have an abortion in a hospital toilet after allegedly being abandoned by doctors.

READ MORE HERE: Rome doctors left woman to abort baby in toilet 

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