Richard Dawkins claims abortion is a means to end human suffering

Atheist author Richard Dawkins appears in a screen capture of a YouTube video from Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science.YouTube/Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has claimed that abortion should be seen as a means to end human suffering after Pope Francis recently likened it to the eugenics programme implemented by the Nazis.

In his address to a delegation from Italy's Family Association last weekend, Francis denounced the abortion of babies with birth defects, suggesting it was no different from the Nazi eugenic programmes that were aimed at eliminating the weakest members of society.

'In the last century the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves,' he said, according to Reuters.

Dawkins expressed his objection to the Pope's remarks, claiming abortion was a means to avoid human suffering.

'And you thought Francis was the "good Pope"?' the author wrote in a tweet on Monday. 'Abortion to avoid birth defects is not about eugenics. It's about the avoidance of individual human suffering,' he added.

The famed atheist previously recommended abortion for unborn babies with birth defects. In a 2014 tweet, he encouraged a Twitter follower to '[a]bort it and try again' when he was asked for advice on what to do when a woman expects a child with Down syndrome. 'It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice,' he went on to say.

In another post, the author contended that his recommendation was not out of the ordinary. 'In point of fact, a majority of Down syndrome fetuses in Europe and USA are aborted. What I recommended is not outlandish but the norm,' he wrote.

During his meeting with members of Italian family associations, Francis insisted that children should be welcomed by families even when they are sick because they are 'God's greatest gift.'

'The killing of children. And to have a more tranquil life, an innocent is done away with,' Francis said, according to National Catholic Reporter.

The Nazi eugenics program began in 1933 when Germany enacted the Eugenic Sterilization Law, which required doctors to sterilize people who were suspected of having a hereditary disease.

Apart from forcibly sterilizing hundreds of thousands of citizens, the Nazis also killed tens of thousands during the implementation of the programme to prevent people with hereditary diseases or cognitive disabilities from reproducing.