Jennifer Ludden

Jennifer Ludden is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. She covers a range of stories on family life and social issues.

In recent years, Ludden has reported on the changing economics of marriage, the changing role of dads, the impact of rising student debt loads, and the ethical challenges of modern reproductive technology.

Ludden helped cover national security after the 9/11 attacks, then reported on the Bush administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants as well as Congressional efforts to pass a sweeping legalization. She traveled to the Philippines for a story on how an overburdened immigration bureaucracy keeps families separated for years, and to El Salvador to profile migrants who had been deported or turned back at the border.

Prior to moving into her current assignment in 2002, Ludden spent six years as a foreign reporter for NPR covering the Middle East, Europe, and West and Central Africa. She followed the collapse of the decade-long Oslo peace process, shared in two awards (Overseas Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists) for NPR's coverage of the Kosovo war in 1999, and won the Robert F. Kennedy award for her coverage of the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

When not navigating war zones, Ludden reported on cultural trends, including the dying tradition of storytellers in Syria, the emergence of Persian pop music in Iran, and the rise of a new form of urban polygamy in Africa.

Before joining NPR in 1995, Ludden reported in Canada, and at public radio stations in Boston and Maine.

Ludden graduated from Syracuse University in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in English and Television, Radio and Film Production.

There's no shortage of speculation about how the incoming Trump administration, whose appointees so far are staunch abortion opponents, might crack down on access to the procedure. But reproductive rights groups say the big picture is getting lost: Women in large parts of the country already have limited access to abortion, due to hundreds of Republican-backed laws passed by state legislatures over the past half-decade. "People are forced to travel hundreds of miles, cross state lines, miss...

The most contentious presidential campaign and election in memory has many people dreading the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Some have even canceled plans , unwilling to face family members on the other side of the country's hardening political divide. Not so for the McNeish family of Roanoke, Va., though they still differ mightily on what to expect from a President Trump over the next four years. "I have no faith in him whatsoever," says Danny, 35, who works with a company that supplies and...

Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Women's Health had been having a banner year. Her organization, based in Charlottesville, Va., operates several abortion clinics around the country and brought a legal challenge that led the Supreme Court to issue a landmark ruling this past summer. The court struck down abortion restrictions in Texas, setting a precedent that abortion rights groups believe could help turn back a wave of restrictions passed by legislatures across the country in recent years. But...

In Greensboro, N.C., Eyeisha Holt spends her days as a full-time child care worker at Head Start. But after a decade's work in early education she still earns only $11.50 an hour — barely enough, she says, to cover the basics as a single mom of two. So every weekday evening she heads to her second job, as a babysitter. "Are you ready to go to bed?" she asks, as she oversees bath time for her 3-year-old daughter and another of her charges. For 25 hours a week, Holt cares for toddler twins, in...

In the final presidential debate, Donald Trump said he supports the federal ban on "partial-birth" abortion because, under the procedure, "in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother." He added that this can happen "as late as one or two or three or four days prior to birth." But that is not at all likely. Some 90 percent of abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute , a research group that...

In the two-story breakfast room on the 25th floor of Hilton's Conrad Miami, Florance Eloi mans the omelet stand in front of a panoramic view of the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. The bubbly Miami native says, laughing, that guests routinely tell her, "Stop making the omelets, you need to turn around and look!" When Eloi, 31, found out she was pregnant late last year, she wondered how she would balance her job with a baby. She was lucky to have a few weeks of paid vacation, since about half...

On her first day back at work after giving birth, Tricia Olson drank copious amounts of coffee, stuffed tissues in her pocket, and tried not to cry. After all, her son Gus was just 3 weeks old. Olson, 32, works for a small towing company and U-Haul franchise in Rock Springs, Wyo., and she could not afford to be away from work any longer. "The house bill's not going to pay itself," she says, her voice breaking in an audio diary she kept as part of a series on the challenges facing working...

A powerful drug that's normally used to tranquilize elephants is being blamed for a record spike in drug overdoses in the Midwest. Officials in Ohio have declared a public health emergency, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says communities everywhere should be on alert for carfentanil. The synthetic opioid is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, the prescription painkiller that led to the death earlier this year of the pop star Prince. Fentanyl itself can be up to 50 times more...

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Orientation at Arkansas Tech University this year included a surprising topic for a Bible Belt state that pushes abstinence-only in high school. Every freshman was shown a newly produced video in which real students talk about the struggle of an unplanned pregnancy, and the challenge of staying in school as a parent. "I lost a lot of friends," says one young woman in the video who had dreamed of becoming a surgeon. A young man says he "went from not having any responsibility to having a full...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR .

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: In a surprise move, Baltimore prosecutors have dropped all charges against three officers who still face trial in the death of Freddie Gray. The death of that young black man last year touched off protests that turned violent. State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby had been lauded by some for swiftly charging six officers, but the case has been an uphill battle from the start. NPR's Jennifer Ludden is here with us to...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B_UYYPb-Gk #NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories. From Nancy Shute, Co-Host of Shots, NPR's health blog: The aging beat can be a bummer, and good news stories about getting old can end up sounding like a chirpy promo for AARP insurance....

One of the country's most outspoken abortion providers has filed a civil rights complaint against the hospital where she works, saying that it has wrongly banned her from giving media interviews. Last fall Diane Horvath-Cosper, an obstetrician and gynecologist, did a lightning round of media interviews after a shooting attack killed three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, raising new safety concerns at health care facilities that perform abortions. "I want women to be able to...

The nation's falling teen birth rate saw an even bigger drop over the past decade, with dramatic declines among Hispanic and black teens. Birth rates are down a whopping 51 percent among Hispanics age 15 to 19 since 2006, and down 44 percent among black teens, according to a survey of census data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teen pregnancy rates among whites also fell by a third. "It's really a one-two punch," says study co-author Shanna Cox, associate director for...

The trials of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray were supposed to have been over by now. It was a year ago Tuesday that the 25-year-old black man died of a severe neck injury sustained in custody. His death touched off violent protests, and — in a stunning announcement just days later — criminal charges. State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she had heard protesters' calls for "no justice, no peace." But so far, there's been one hung jury, lots of legal...

When a doctor found that Kenicer Carty's 1-year-old daughter had a dangerously high level of lead last year, it triggered an alarm of sorts. Officials sent an inspector to Carty's 1930 row house in northeast Baltimore. It turned out that every single window had hazardous chipping lead paint. The city contracted with the nonprofit Green and Healthy Homes Initiative to replace the windows and inspect her house. They will also fix a leak in a bedroom wall and near the toilet where water pools,...

At Southwest Baltimore Charter School, preparing lunch takes a few extra steps. "We don't use the water from the building for cooking, not at all," say cafeteria worker LaShawn Thompson, shaking her head. Her colleague, Christine Fraction, points to a large water bottle sitting on the counter of a stainless steel sink. "We having greens or something like that, we having vegetables, we'll just turn it over into the pan and then put it on the stove," she says. Throughout the school, water...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: As we mentioned earlier, people on both sides of the issue rallied outside of the court. That's where NPR's Jennifer Ludden was posted. UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If you love an abortion provider, make some noise. (CHEERING) JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Abortion rights supporters vastly outnumbered abortion opponents. They packed the steps of the Supreme Court, spreading in a dense crowd to the edge of the...

The U.S. Supreme Court next month is scheduled to hear its biggest abortion case in at least a decade, and the reach of that decision is likely to be impacted by the absence of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died over the weekend. A Texas law requires that doctors have local hospital admitting privileges and that clinics make costly building upgrades to operate like outpatient surgical centers. Numerous other states have passed similar laws, and Scalia was widely expected to provide a fifth vote...

Who is among the least likely to use online dating sites? A few years ago, you would have been correct to guess college students or those in their early 20s, a group surrounded by peers and in the prime of their bar-hopping years. But a newly released Pew Research Center study finds the use of online dating sites by 18- to 24-year-olds has nearly tripled just since 2013, making this group now the most likely to use the Web to find partners. "This is a really meaningful sociological phenomenon...

Emily Martin created a state-by-state map of the gender wage gap in the United States. She calculated: Washington, D.C., has the smallest wage gap where women average nearly 90 cents to a man's dollar; Louisiana has the largest gap — women there earn just 65 percent of what men do. Nationally, women earn an average 79 cents for every dollar men do. The gender wage gap is even wider for black and Hispanic women. Martin is the vice president and general counsel of the National Women's Law...

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: A jury has failed to reach a verdict in the trial of William Porter in Baltimore. He's the police officer who faced manslaughter and other charges in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray was a black man who sustained a broken neck while in police custody this April. Judge Barry Williams told the courtroom today that the jury could not reach agreement on any of the four charges against Porter. He thanked...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: We want to bring you up-to-date now on one of the stories that's been part of the national conversation about police conduct in urban neighborhoods, particularly the treatment of black men. We're talking here about Freddie Gray, a black man who died from a spinal cord injury he sustained while in a police van last April. His death set off both peaceful and violent protests in Baltimore. Six officers...

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