Axios Nashville

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Good morning. Thursday is here, and we brought you some news.

  • Today's weather: A chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. The high is 90°.

Today's newsletter is 781 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Abortion ban begins

Illustration of a caduceus and question mark.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Tennessee's sweeping abortion ban takes effect today.

  • Critics argue the law creates a "dangerous" legal gray area for health care providers.

Why it matters: The ban, which was triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, makes performing abortions a Class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

Driving the news: In the days before the ban began, critics lamented that the law contains no true exceptions.

  • Instead, the law lays out a path for providers to defend themselves in court by arguing an abortion was necessary because the pregnant person's life was in jeopardy or if there was a "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."
  • But that defense would only come into play "at a criminal trial — after they have been indicted," Metro law director Wally Dietz said at a forum earlier this month.

What they're saying: "These terms are not defined,” Dietz said of the "serious" health risks described in the law. "As a lawyer, it's maddening that there's no definition for this, but I'm sure for the medical experts on this panel, it's even more disturbing."

  • "This statute has so many gray areas that we are in a very dangerous territory in Tennessee once we get to Aug. 25."

The other side: Gov. Bill Lee pushed back on that interpretation earlier this week.

  • "I think what we need to make sure is that there is an ability for a doctor to perform in the case of a dangerous maternal health situation," Lee said, according to the Tennessean.
  • "My sense and understanding from the law is that does exist now."

State of play: Some local groups want lawmakers to carve out exceptions during the upcoming legislative session, per the Tennessean.

The big picture: Nashville defense attorney David Raybin tells Axios the law was designed to dissuade providers from performing abortions regardless of the reason. "A doctor performs an abortion at his or her peril," he says.

  • "There are no exceptions under this statute. There are many that advocate that it has exceptions. It does not."
  • Raybin says that even if a doctor believes an abortion was justified because of a threat to the pregnant person, it might not be an ironclad criminal defense.
  • "If the doctor is wrong and the jury doesn't go along with that, they're convicted," Raybin says. "It's not litigated in the hospital room; it's litigated in the courtroom."

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2. Student loan relief

Federal student loan debt owed by borrowers in Tennessee, by age group
Data: Federal Student Aid; Note: Includes outstanding principal and interest balances from Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans and Perkins Loans; Table: Simran Parwani/Axios

The Biden administration announced yesterday it would cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for individual borrowers who make under $125,000 per year, Axios' Sophia Cai and Erin Doherty report.

  • The $10,000 in debt relief also applies to households that earn $250,000 a year or less.
  • The White House also announced it was extending the pause on repayments by four months.

Why it matters: The decision is expected to alleviate some of the debt burdens of 43 million Americans while also fulfilling a key campaign promise.

  • Approximately 20 million Americans could have their debt completely canceled under Biden's announcement.

Zoom in: Tennessee residents collectively owe more than $31 billion in federal student loan debt, according to federal figures.

Yes, and: Data shows that many students from most public colleges in Tennessee leave campus with thousands of dollars in debt.

3. Most TN kids have COVID antibodies

COVID-19 pediatric seroprevalence estimates
Data: CDC; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

Eighty-seven percent of Tennessee children have COVID-19 antibodies, according to stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • The data was based on blood tests from samples collected in May and June.

By the numbers: Nationally, 79.7% of children had COVID antibodies.

4. The Setlist

Illustration of the "Batman building" in Nashville with a bat-signal, with a note instead of a bat, shining on it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚨 The Tennessee NAACP is calling for a federal investigation into the Nashville police department. (Nashville Scene)

🥳 Airbnb wants to crack down on unwanted parties using screening software. (Tennessean, subscription)

🏗 Fisk University is preparing for new residential and science buildings. (Nashville Post, subscription)

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5. Nolensville falls at Little League World Series

A large Little League World Series baseball.

Photo: Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Nolensville lost to Hawaii 13-0 in the semifinals of the U.S. bracket of the Little League World Series yesterday.

What's next: Nolensville isn't eliminated. The team will play Texas this afternoon, and the winner advances to the U.S. championship.

Aloha: Losing to Hawaii is nothing to be ashamed of. Hawaii has been crushing its opponents so far, winning its first four games by a combined score of 42-1.

Nate knows Custer died at Little Bighorn, but would love to read a novel that presupposes: Maybe he didn't.

🐬 Adam is watchin' dolphins.