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Most members of the Senate and the House of Representatives separately cast their votes for the bill, which languished in Congress for more than a decade as lawmakers avoided colliding with the church.

President Benigno Aquino III considers the bill a major step toward reducing maternal deaths and promoting family planning in the impoverished country, which has one of Asia’s fastest-growing populations.

Church leaders said in a pastoral letter Sunday that the proposal would put the moral fiber of the nation at risk.


Judge and his family found beheaded in Kharkiv home

KIEV | Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are investigating the grisly killings and beheadings of a judge and three others in his home in the city of Kharkiv.

Judge Volodymyr Trofimov, 58, and his wife, son and the son’s girlfriend were found dead in the judge’s apartment Saturday. All the bodies had been decapitated and the heads were missing, prosecutors and police said.

Investigators say they think Judge Trofimov’s killing could be connected to his job. They noted that the killings took place on Dec. 15, which is Judge’s Day in Ukraine. Investigators also said the killings could have been the result of a robbery because some belongings are missing from the apartment, or a murder-for-hire job.

No further details were available Monday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports