The case has caused palpable unease at the Fox News Channel, said several people there, who would speak only anonymously. Anchors and executives have been preparing for depositions and have been forced to hand over months of private emails and text messages to Dominion, which is hoping to prove that network employees knew that wild accusations of ballot rigging in the 2020 election were false. The hosts Steve Doocy, Dana Perino and Shepard Smith are among the current and former Fox personalities who either have been deposed or will be this month.

Dominion is trying to build a case that aims straight at the top of the Fox media empire and the Murdochs. In court filings and depositions, Dominion lawyers have laid out how they plan to show that senior Fox executives hatched a plan after the election to lure back viewers who had switched to rival hard-right networks, which were initially more sympathetic than Fox was to Mr. Trump’s voter-fraud claims.

Libel law doesn’t protect lies. But it does leave room for the media to cover newsworthy figures who tell them. And Fox is arguing, in part, that’s what shields it from liability. Asked about Dominion’s strategy to place the Murdochs front and center in the case, a Fox Corporation spokesman said it would be a “fruitless fishing expedition.” A spokeswoman for Fox News said it was “ridiculous” to claim, as Dominion does in the suit, that the network was chasing viewers from the far-right fringe.

Fox is expected to dispute Dominion’s estimated self-valuation of $1 billion and argue that $1.6 billion is an excessively high amount for damages, as it has in a similar defamation case filed by another voting machine company, Smartmatic.

A spokesman for Dominion declined to comment. In its initial complaint, the company’s lawyers wrote that “The truth matters,” adding, “Lies have consequences.”

denied a motion from Fox that would have excluded the parent Fox Corporation from the case — a much larger target than Fox News itself. That business encompasses the most profitable parts of the Murdoch American media portfolio and is run directly by Rupert Murdoch, 91, who serves as chairman, and his elder son, Lachlan, the chief executive.

Soon after, Fox replaced its outside legal team on the case and hired one of the country’s most prominent trial lawyers — a sign that executives believe that the chances the case is headed to trial have increased.

Dominion’s lawyers have focused some of their questioning in depositions on the decision-making hierarchy at Fox News, according to one person with direct knowledge of the case, showing a particular interest in what happened on election night inside the network in the hours after it projected Mr. Trump would lose Arizona. That call short-circuited the president’s plan to prematurely declare victory, enraging him and his loyalists and precipitating a temporary ratings crash for Fox.

These questions have had a singular focus, this person said: to place Lachlan Murdoch in the room when the decisions about election coverage were being made. This person added that while testimony so far suggests the younger Murdoch did not try to pressure anyone at Fox News to reverse the call — as Mr. Trump and his campaign aides demanded the network do — he did ask detailed questions about the process that Fox’s election analysts had used after the call became so contentious.

The case was settled in 2017.

But Fox has also been searching for evidence that could, in effect, prove the Dominion conspiracy theories weren’t really conspiracy theories. Behind the scenes, Fox’s lawyers have pursued documents that would support numerous unfounded claims about Dominion, including its supposed connections to Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan dictator who died in 2013, and software features that were ostensibly designed to make vote manipulation easier.

According to court filings, the words and phrases that Fox has asked Dominion to search for in internal communications going back more than a decade include “Chavez” and “Hugo,” along with “tampered,” “backdoor,” “stolen” and “Trump.”

Eric Munchel of Tennessee, in which he is brandishing a shotgun, with Mr. Trump on a television in the background. The television is tuned to Fox Business.

But the hurdle Dominion must clear is whether it can persuade a jury to believe that people at Fox knew they were spreading lies.

“Disseminating ‘The Big Lie’ isn’t enough,” said RonNell Andersen Jones, a law professor and First Amendment scholar at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. “It has to be a knowing lie.”

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Newsy Investigates: Vague Health Exceptions In Abortion Bans

Abortion bans have exceptions to save a pregnant person’s life, but the laws aren’t clear about when a life is in danger, a Newsy investigation finds.

In 2009, Julie Bindeman the mother of one, pregnant with a second child, learns her fetus has severe brain abnormalities.  

“I remember asking the doctors, you guys do miracles every day. You see miracles every day. What’s the chance that you’re wrong?,” Bindeman said.  

She’s told carrying the pregnancy would require a c-section — with unknowns about other possible effects on her health.  

Abortion was an option.  

“It was one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make,” Bindeman said.   

She and her partner decided to terminate the pregnancy, and a second one, after learning that fetus also had developed the same problems.  

“The foremost consideration was the quality of life of that child. But secondary in the conversation was if I were to carry to term, what would that mean for me?,” she said.    

What would have happened to Bindeman had she been in one of the eight states that rolled out near-total abortion bans after the fall of Roe v. Wade? 

They don’t have exceptions for fetal abnormalities. 

They do allow for abortion when a pregnant patient’s health or life is at risk.  

But look closer at the laws, and you’ll see they don’t spell out how to determine which health concerns permit an abortion. 

That leaves a gray area for doctors considering what to do with a case like Bindeman’s, explains Jenni Villavicencio, an OBGYN, and a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 

“We have heard a lot of doctors who are afraid and concerned and not sure how to proceed and take care of the patients that they have in front of them,” Dr. Villavicencio said.    

Two states, Alabama and Missouri, allow for abortion to avoid risk to the pregnant person’s health; specifically, the potential “impairment of a major bodily function.” 

The other laws Newsy examined set a higher bar. They require a pregnant person’s life to be on the line.  

Take South Dakota, for example: the law there states abortion is illegal, “unless there is appropriate and reasonable medical judgment that performance of an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female.” 

Former State Representative Joel Dykstra helped write South Dakota’s ban in 2005. 

He says the law was designed to put the burden on doctors to decide for themselves when to abort.  

“They’ll have to go with their own conscience, recognizing the risk going in and they’ll have to make tough decisions,” Dykstra said.  

Newsy found, for the most part, abortion bans are like South Dakota’s. 

They don’t get specific about what medical conditions endanger a pregnant person’s life. 

Arkansas and Oklahoma both say it’s any deadly “physical disorder, physical illness or physical injury.” 

The law in Texas is even more vague, leaving it to “medical advice” to determine when an abortion is necessary.  

And doctors must lean on “reasonable medical judgment” to use abortion to save a life in Missouri and South Dakota. 

Villavicencio says the problem is, pregnancies that threaten someone’s health or life often aren’t clear cut. 

“While it may say there are exceptions to this abortion ban for the life of the mother or the pregnant person, that’s not actually medically meaningful for us, because there’s not a bright line someone crosses and then suddenly is dying,” Dr. Villavicencio said.  

Doctors who perform what they consider life-saving abortions could face prison time if a judge or jury later decides they got it wrong. 

“These laws pit doctors and patients against each other. They make me have to think about myself and the patient rather than just the patient and my training,” Dr. Villavicencio continued.  

The Biden administration has directed doctors to provide “life or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations,” no matter the state law.

The order lists two examples: “ectopic pregnancy,” and “pre-eclampsia with severe features.” 

But that directive has an uncertain future, facing a legal challenge from the attorney general of Texas. 

He says it would “transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic.” 

Dykstra says he expects South Dakota will update its law as it plays out in hospital rooms. 

“Some might have to bear the burden of the test cases. Terminating a life warrants a serious treatment, and it’s a serious offense,” Dykstra said.  

Bindeman thinks she would’ve had to carry both of her troubled pregnancies to term had she been in a state with new abortion bans. 

“They would not have looked at my case as health of the mother, because until I got to a point of sepsis, it was not seen as my health,” she said. 

She later gave birth to two more healthy children. 

She wears a necklace with five charms for what she considers all her children; two for the babies no longer living. 


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30 Days Since Supreme Court Overturned Roe V. Wade

By Maura Sirianni
July 24, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade essentially led the country to be made up of a patchwork of abortion laws.

Depending on where you live,  abortion laws may now be different.

The 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade sent shockwaves across the nation, as states can now establish their own laws relating to abortion care.

Some states have signed executive orders strengthening access to abortion care and protecting those who seek or perform the procedure.

“We will not aid, we will not abet in their efforts to be punitive, to fine and create fear for those that seek that support,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Other states, immediately restricted access or eliminated the right to abortion care altogether.

“There’s just so many things that are frustrating right now that I feel are really out of my control but if we come together, we can change things,” said KellyAnn Bates an abortion rights demonstrator.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, since Roe was overturned, at least 13 states have ended nearly all abortion services. Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas have completely banned abortion with few restrictions.

In Florida, a 15-week ban on abortions, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life, took effect July 1.

And last week, a federal appeals court in Georgia ruled the state can prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs around six weeks into a pregnancy. Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee are also enforcing six-week bans.

Patient care has changed, too. Abortion providers in states where access is still available reported seeing an influx of out-of-state patients.

In St. Louis, Mayor Tishaura Jones signed a bill Thursday creating the Reproductive Equity Fund, which covers the cost of out-of-state travel for abortions. In response, Missouri’s attorney general is now suing the city of St. Louis.

Friday in Kentucky, a judge issued an injunction blocking enforcement of two state laws that ban almost all abortions, which means clinics can continue providing abortion care, while the legal challenge proceeds.

“It’s a small sigh of relief. It bodes well for our case, and it shows that the judge has recognized the gravity of the situation and how important this care is for the people of Kentucky,” said Angela Cooper of ACLU in Kentucky.

In addition to Kentucky, abortion bans in Louisiana and Utah have also been blocked in court and are awaiting hearings. Earlier this month, in what was the Democrats’ first legislative response to the ruling, the House voted to restore abortion rights nationwide.

“The yays are 219. The nays are 210. The bill is passed,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Although, the bill has little chance of becoming law, with the necessary support lacking in the Senate.

In the 30 days since the ruling, reproductive health care has needed to operate in a new landscape, as well.

Doctors and prescribers across the U.S. are now seeing an increased demand for contraception, especially emergency forms.

Some national pharmacy chains even impose limits on purchases.


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Pressure On Senate GOP After Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes House

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
July 21, 2022

The bill would repeal the Clinton-era law that defines marriage as a heterosexual union between a man and a woman.

The Senate unexpectedly launched a new push Wednesday to protect same-sex marriage in federal law after a surprising number of Republicans helped pass landmark legislation in the House. Some GOP senators are already signaling support.

The legislation started as an election-season political effort to confront the new Supreme Court majority after the court overturned abortion access in Roe v. Wade, raising concerns that other rights were at risk. But suddenly it has a shot at becoming law. Pressure is mounting on Republicans to drop their longstanding opposition and join in a bipartisan moment for gay rights.

“This legislation was so important,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said as he opened the chamber Wednesday.

The Democratic leader marveled over the House’s 267-157 tally, with 47 Republicans — almost one-fifth of the GOP lawmakers — voting for the bill late Tuesday.

“I want to bring this bill to the floor,” Schumer said, “and we’re working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass.”

Political odds are still long for the legislation, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine same-sex and interracial marriages as protected under federal law. Conservatives, including House GOP leaders, largely opposed the bill, and the vast majority of Republicans voted against it.

But in a sign of shifting political attitudes and a need for an election-year win, some Republicans are signaling there may be an opening. Few Republicans spoke directly against gay marriage during Tuesday’s floor debate in the House. And Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was notably silent when asked about the bill, saying he would take a look if it comes to the Senate.

“I’m going to delay announcing anything on that issue,” McConnell said, adding he would wait to see if Schumer brings it forward.

So far, the legislation has just two Senate Republican co-sponsors, Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina are among others closely watched for possible support.

In all 10 Republican senators would need to join with all Democrats to reach the 60 vote threshold to overcome a GOP filibuster.

The No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, was doubtful Tuesday, calling the proposed legislation little more than a political message.

Social issues including same-sex marriage and abortion have sprinted to the top of the congressional agenda this summer in reaction to the Supreme Court’s action overturning Roe v. Wade, a stunning ruling that ended the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion access. It set off alarms that other rights conservatives have targeted could be next.

The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act, which put into federal law the definition of marriage as a heterosexual union between a man and woman. That 1996 law was largely overshadowed by subsequent court rulings, including Obergefell vs. Hodges in 2015, legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.


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The Effect Of Transgender Athlete Bans On Youth Sports

The criticism of transgender women participating in and winning sports competition can have an effect on the mental health of all ages of athletes.

As much of the nation prepares to go back to school, new laws banning transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports teams are moving from debates at the statehouse to taking effect on the field in states like Tennessee, Indiana, South Dakota and Utah.

This is a sensitive subject, and this story includes discussions about mental illness and suicide, as well as transphobic concepts and misgendering of transgender people.

These new state-level bans fit into a broader trend that has been at just about all levels of athletics — from state legislatures to international sports governing bodies, where new laws and rules have been written to exclude transgender people from sports that line up with their gender.

So now that these laws are actually taking effect, what will the impact be for the athletes and the sports they play?

Starting with international sports, although the International Olympic Committee has allowed transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics since 2004, it took until last year’s Tokyo Olympics for there to even be any openly transgender athletes competing in any sport at the Olympics.

Although one transgender athlete assigned female at birth won a gold medal with Canada’s women’s soccer team, no transgender athlete has medaled in an individual competition.

If you’re an athlete, transitioning can take a toll on your body — something that transgender athlete performance researcher and distance runner Joanna Harper saw both in her research and firsthand. 

“One of the most important things in my development was the change in speed that I experienced after I started hormone therapy in August of 2004,” Harper said. “Within nine months of starting hormone therapy, I was running 12% slower, and that’s the difference between serious male distance runners and serious female distance runners.”

But as transgender women participate and win sports competitions, it’s gotten some people upset and claiming they have an unfair advantage. 

There isn’t much evidence out there yet that quantifies how much of an advantage transgender women athletes may have, but she told us that regardless of gender at the highest levels of competition, there’s nuance and a middle ground here that can vary depending on the sport.

“The fact that we don’t know the magnitude of that advantage, which is also extremely important because we allow advantages in sport, what we don’t allow is overwhelming advantage,” Harper said. “For instance, we let left-handed baseball players play against right handed baseball players, even though they have numerous advantages, but we don’t let heavyweight boxers get into the ring with with flyweight boxers.”

Policies have often varied sport to sport to ensure transgender athletes can compete but without the potentially overwhelming advantage of naturally higher testosterone, which can allow some transgender athletes to compete but exclude others, including intersex women who actually aren’t transgender. 

Many sports governing bodies or leagues have required testosterone levels to be below certain levels or requiring a certain amount of time to pass after transitioning, and transgender athletes themselves have proposed middle ground options. After Brazilian volleyball player Tifanny Abreu started to play on a women’s team after her transition, she suggested quotas limiting the number of transgender women per team.

But even though the IOC put out a call earlier this year for sports governing bodies to make transgender athlete policies with inclusion in mind, most of the recent sporting rule changes have headed more toward exclusion.

Lia Thomas, the transgender female swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania set records at the Ivy League women’s swimming competitions and won the NCAA Division I championship in the 500-yard freestyle. Swimming’s international governing body FINA issued new, stricter rules in June banning transgender women who transitioned after the age of 12 from competing, just a few months after Thomas’ success led to outcry from some swimmers and media voices. Other sports are expected to follow FINA’s lead and exclude most Transgender women.

Thomas has still faced hate and vitriol online, even as she’s now banned from swimming at NCAA or international women’s swimming competitions. But while Thomas won one major competition, she wasn’t dominating and was still trailed behind the best cisgender swimmers.

The NCAA record in the women’s 500-yard freestyle was set by multi-time Olympic gold medal winner Katie Ledecky, who swam it in 4 minutes and 24.06 seconds in 2017.

Meanwhile, Thomas’ championship winning time in 2022 was more than nine seconds slower, at 4 minutes and 33.24 seconds.

It’s not just swimming where transgender athletes, especially those who win in women’s sports, face attacks.

Veronica Ivy is a competitive track cyclist and a transgender woman. She earned a PhD in philosophy and has done years of research on the ethics around transgender inclusion in sports.

She also received hateful messages after winning an age group championship in 2019, but she sees sports as her outlet.

“Facetiously, one of my favorite mugs says, ‘I ride to burn off the crazy,'” Ivy said. “It is a way that I manage things like depression and anxiety and the PTSD I get from people harassing me and sending me death threats.”

That contention over trans inclusion can seep down to lower levels of sports, and that can have an effect on younger athletes.

“Sports are absolutely vital for kids to feel included, to feel a sense of community, to develop critical life skills like leadership, like ability to communicate with folks who are different from you,” said Anne Lieberman, director of policy and programs at Athlete Ally. “There are so many very clear benefits of sports participation for youth that are in hundreds of studies.”

Lieberman is a three-time national champion muay thai fighter. They had personal childhood experience with inclusion in sports making a difference.

“Sports was one of the only places where I felt like myself, where the bullying stopped, where everything just fell away for a moment and I could be in my body,” Lieberman said. “I could be connected with my peers and feel like I was just like any other kid.”

That inclusion can make all the difference for transgender youth, who report higher rates of anxiety, depression and mental health issues. A 2022 study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence found that 86% of transgender youth surveyed reported being suicidal, and more than half, 56%, reported they previously tried committing suicide.

But even as youth sports come with lower stakes, Republican legislators see transgender athletes as a threat.

“This is fundamentally about fairness,” State Rep. Ryan Dotson, (R) Kentucky, said. “It ensures that both biological females and biological males have a level playing field. We don’t want to deprive any of the females of these opportunities.”

Kentucky passed legislation banning transgender girls from competing in youth sports over the Democratic governor’s veto. Since the ban took effect, at least one female athlete hasn’t been able to compete.

As of July, 18 states, including Kentucky, have passed similar bills. Republican governors in Indiana and Utah also saw legislators override them.

But in Utah, Gov. Spencer Cox issued a statement along with his veto pointing out that out of 75,000 kids playing high school sports in Utah, four are transgender, and only one transgender student played in girls’ sports.

In Kansas, Republican legislators were blocked from implementing a ban on transgender athletes. Stephanie Byers, a Democratic state representative in Kansas who is the first Native American transgender state legislator, voted and testified against the bill. She told Newsy that in Kansas, where the same commission governs both athletic and non-athletic school competitions, the only person seeking recognition as a transgender girl, wasn’t even looking to compete in a sport.

“So in the state of Kansas, it’s estimated there are 37,000 girls in athletics and the high school level here in the state,” Byers said. “The number of people that had applied to the Kansas State High School Activities Association for a variance on gender — this year we’re seven, six for trans guys. One was a trans girl, and that one trans girl that applied for the variance. I know it wasn’t because of athletics, it was because of other activities that are sponsored by the Kent State as collective association.”

This all fits into a broader context. Transgender people aren’t just being targeted by laws about sports. 27 states considered laws limiting transgender people’s access to healthcare in 2020 and 2021, including Arkansas and Alabama, which enacted their bans into law.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the state to investigate parents who help their transgender children get health care as potential child abusers.

In Florida, the Parents Rights in Education bill often labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, took effect this July and leads to school districts facing the risk of lawsuits if transgender identities are discussed in the classroom before fourth grade. 

Transgender athletes and advocates say laws like this or athlete bans can dehumanize transgender people and that so many of these laws or efforts to debate transgender inclusion can be addressed by remembering the human effects.

“To take that away from fragile children is so unbelievably cruel, in my view,” Ivy said. “I do believe that these people passing these laws, the cruelty is the point. They don’t care about protecting women’s sport; they just want to be cruel to trans kids.”

These laws can affect transgender people off the field too. 

“Even that kid has no want whatsoever to ever be in athletics,” Byers said. “They still feel these things because it’s still attacking somebody like them, so that trans girl that nobody knows about, who’s not even had the courage to sit down and talk with their parents or they live in a household, that that there’s no support going to be there no matter what. They’re the ones that feel this to.”


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