Abortion is like "hiring a hitman to resolve a problem", Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square this week.

In some of his strongest comments on the issue, the Pope was reportedly reflecting on the fifth Commandment - "You shall not kill" - when he noted a "contradictory approach to life" which allows the "suppression of human life in the mother’s womb in order to safeguard other values”.

"It is not right to 'take out' a human being, no matter how little, to resolve a problem," said the Pontiff. "That is like hiring a hitman to resolve a problem."

Abortion remains a hot-button issue in numerous nations including in the US where there is some speculation the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the bench of the US Supreme Court could rollback the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling. 

Meanwhile, in the Australian state of Queensland a bill which would decriminalise abortion is also set to be voted upon next week. The Australian Christian Lobby has been campaigning against what they have described as a "radical" bill.