Pope Francis has praised the "heroism" of parents of gravely ill children who chose not to abort.
Francis met for nearly an hour with a group of severely ill children and their parents today in the Vatican hotel chapel.
The families are participating in a pilgrimage to the shrines at Lourdes and Loreto.
The Vatican said Francis spent time with each child, who ranged in age from two to 14.
The father of one child, Andrea Maria, told Francis how doctors had advised his wife to have an abortion because of a difficult pregnancy and the child's ailments but that they refused.
A Vatican statement of the closed meeting said Francis expressed his admiration for their courage, saying abortion is a false solution and that such parents show "heroism."
The campaign for same- sex marriage is done and dusted - emphatically so. But the obvious electoral shift towards a more liberal, secular society, particularly among younger voters, only serves to emphasise the point that abortion will be the next big social issue battleground.