The Reuters news agency reported in July that Nepali lawmakers are considering a bill to legalize abortion in the small Himalayan kingdom.

Sunil Kuman Bhandari of the Napali Congress party introduced the bill July 10. Bhandari is president of the Family Planning Association of Nepal, an affiliate of the London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation.

He said the bill would give Napali women greater reproductive rights and would reduce high maternal death rates in the country.

Reuters also reported that the country’s maternal death rate is 8.5 per 1,000, half of that total the result of unsafe abortions.

Abortion is illegal in Nepal with a maximum penalty of three-year imprisonment.

The Family Planning Association of Nepal recently hosted a workshop devoted to abortion and women’s rights. It recommended the legalization of abortion up to 12 weeks from conception, and beyond that time in the event of rape, incest or contraceptive failure.

Workshop participants were told of the hundreds of private clinics in the Kathmandu area, which earn high profits by performing illegal abortion.

Bhandari said the law was necessary to protect a women’s right to control reproduction.

“It will also give mental, physical and psychological security to widows and unmarried women who become pregnant,” he said.