A Nicaraguan parliamentary committee has approved draft legislation to ban all abortions, including in cases where the mother's life is at risk.
Some women's groups have hit out against the changes
The legislation will now be debated at a national assembly hearing before a final vote next week.
If the law is passed, doctors carrying out abortions could face up to 30 years in prison.
At present, abortion is only permitted in Nicaragua in instances where the life of the mother is in danger.
The call for a complete ban has mainly come from the Roman Catholic and evangelical churches.
The bill - which is widely expected to be approved - has come amid campaigning for the country's presidential election in November.
The leader of the judicial committee which returned the decision is against changing the law. He argues that the process has happened too quickly, and without proper consultation.
However, BBC Americas editor Will Grant says it appears that the much of the assembly, and indeed much of Nicaragua, which is estimated to be 85% Roman Catholic, disagrees with him.
Orlando Tardencilla, one of the members of the sub-committee which proposed the bill, said: "Unless abortion is made a crime, then people can simply come out and say: 'I have the right to an abortion, this is my body and I can decide.'
"That's like saying: 'I'm allowed to commit murder because these hands are mine, this gun is mine.'"
But rights group The Women's Autonomous Movement said it would file an injunction if the bill was approved.
"It's not possible that a woman's life be considered secondary," the Associated Press news agency quoted group co-ordinator Azahalea Solis as saying.