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.

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...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: A Baltimore police officer on trial in the death of a young black man took the stand in his own defense today. Prosecutors say William Porter failed to seatbelt Freddie Gray into a police van and failed to call for medical aid. Gray broke his neck while in custody and later died. Today Porter told jurors that Freddie Gray seemed just fine when he checked on him in that police van. NPR's Jennifer Ludden...

Updated for testimony from Dec. 9. Officer William Porter is the first of six Baltimore police officers who stand accused of playing a role in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after injuries sustained in the back of a police van while he was handcuffed and shackled. Porter, who joined the police force in 2012, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, and misconduct in office. Essentially, prosecutors want him held accountable for failing to...

It's been seven months since protests over the death of an unarmed black man after his arrest erupted into looting and arson, leading Baltimore's mayor to declare a curfew and call in the National Guard. Now, that unrest remains a potent backdrop as the trial begins for the first of six police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death. "I just want peace while the trial is going on," says Missa Grant, standing at a bus stop across a busy intersection from the former CVS that became a televised...

When the state of Maryland wanted to reach dads who were behind on their child support payments, it started in the boarded-up blocks of West Baltimore, in neighborhoods marked by drugs, violence and unemployment. In just four zip code areas, the state identified 4,642 people who owed more than $30 million in back child support. Most of that was "state-owed," meaning that rather than going to the child through the custodial parent, it's supposed to reimburse taxpayers for welfare paid to the...

On a recent Saturday afternoon at his West Baltimore row house, Harrelle Felipa fields a steady stream of interruptions as he breads a large plate of fish and chicken for dinner. His 4-year-old son wants to recite his letters. The 3-year-old brings him a toy that's broken. The tweens play Minecraft on the Xbox while Felipa's teen daughter checks her email. Felipa says he loves it. "This is what my life consists of," he says. "I arrange my life around these guys." It's not the typical image of...

When West Baltimore's Renaissance Academy High School hired four African-American mentors earlier this year, student Jalone Carroll wanted nothing to do with them. He figured they would come "mess everything up, and then dip," or disappear. "We didn't know how to take that type, you feel me," says Carroll. "Somebody that cares, somebody that really wants to see us succeed." Carroll is 20, but he has only enough credits to be in 10th grade. He says no one at other schools he attended ever...

House Republicans questioned the head of Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, on whether the women's health group needs federal funding. The testimony comes after the release of a series of videos that allege the organization violates rules on fetal tissue donation for research. Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: On Capitol Hill, no federal government shutdown for now, but Republicans aren't giving up on efforts to defund Planned Parenthood....

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: The head of Planned Parenthood testifies before Congress today. A House committee is investigating videos recorded secretly by an anti-abortion group. That group accuses Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood says that is not true, and experts have shown the videos to be heavily edited and misleading. But they have become a rallying point for some Republican...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript DAVID GREENE, HOST: In the state of Kentucky, Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk, made big news when she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. But this is not the only controversy since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year, as NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports, a handful of states are refusing to name both parents from a same-sex couple on birth certificates. JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Miami...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: House Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood, and that effort began today with the first in a series of hearings. This was all prompted by sting videos that sought to implicate the women's health group in various crimes related to the collection of fetal tissue for research. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports that much of today's discussion focused on the morality of abortion itself. JENNIFER LUDDEN,...

Soon after their wedding, Dr. Mimi Lee and Stephen Findley decided to create five embryos. Lee had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she worried that treatment would leave her infertile. Now that they're divorced, Lee wants to use them; Findley, however, does not. Those embryos are at the heart of a court case that will soon decide a very modern problem: Which member of a divorced couple gets control of their frozen embryos? For this San Francisco couple, at least, it would seem to...

The young man behind two undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood seemed to come out of nowhere. No one had heard of David Daleiden, or his non-profit, the Center for Medical Progress , when he first accused the health care provider of illegally selling aborted fetal baby parts last week . But in fact, the 26-year-old has been helping to create similar sting videos for years and has ties to larger well-known groups that oppose abortion. Update at 4:45 p.m. ET: Democrats Call For Inquiry...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: A group called The Center for Medical Progress is accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal body parts attained from abortions. They're making their case with a sting video. On Capitol Hill, the House Judiciary Committee says it will investigate Planned Parenthood for its part. Planned Parenthood says it's the victim of deceptive editing and false claims. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4UjIM9B9KQ Updated at 9:03 p.m. ET An undercover video shot by an activist group that was released Tuesday apparently shows a Planned Parenthood official discussing how her group provides researchers with parts from aborted fetuses. The activist group says the video is evidence that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue, which is illegal. The video was made a year ago by the activist group Center for Medical Progress and released in coordination with...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: More reaction now on today's historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. The announcement set off a party atmosphere among the hundreds of people gathered outside of the court. UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Love has won. Love has won. Love has won. Love has won. MARTIN: That chant - love has won. Public opinion has shifted dramatically in favor of same-sex marriage in recent years....

When I set out to interview Helena Hicks, I thought we'd talk history. The soft-spoken, 80-year-old who stands just 4 feet 10 inches tall with a sleek, silver bob, is known for her role in helping to desegregate Read's Drug Store chain. But it turns out she's as active as ever, a force to reckon with at any sense of injustice. "My father taught me that 'you are somebody,' " she says. "If it's wrong, you do something about it." We crossed paths when I was reporting on the Lillian S. Jones...

On a recent day at Baltimore's Lillian S. Jones Recreation Center, adolescent boys play basketball, while a group of girls play Monopoly at a nearby table. There's also air hockey, foosball and a computer room in back. Director Brandi Murphy says there are also swim classes, science lessons, arts and crafts. But the center gives the kids — students age 5 to 12 who come after school and in the summer — far more than fun things to do. "We are mom, dad, aunt, cousin. They come here to get what...

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a controversial state law requiring nearly all Texas facilities that perform abortions to operate like hospital-style surgical centers. If the ruling stands, abortion providers say another dozen could close in the next few weeks. They say that would leave nearly a million women at least 150 miles from the nearest abortion provider. Since the law first passed in 2013, about half the state's 40 clinics have shut down. Providers and women's rights groups...

Mistrust between police and residents in West Baltimore is longstanding, and the fallout from the death of Freddie Gray has only heightened it. Both sides now say they're taking steps to restore that trust, including one-on-one meetings and a neighborhood cookout. But community leaders say the ongoing spike in violence threatens to undermine such efforts. The community group No Boundaries holds lots of listening sessions in West Baltimore. Organizer Rebecca Nagle says at one, well before Gray...

In recent years, states have passed well over 250 laws restricting abortion. One trend in those restrictions: longer waiting periods before women can have the procedure. Twenty-six states already have waiting periods. Most make women wait 24 hours between the time they get counseling on abortion and have the procedure. But this year, several states are extending that to 48 — even 72 — hours. "Now so many states have so many restrictions, really the only thing left to do is go back to the...

In a West Baltimore classroom, three dozen adults — all African-American, mostly men — are in their first week of "pre-employment training." "Show me Monday, what does Monday look like," asks the instructor. They all raise one hand high above their head. "That's where the energy should be every day," she says. "Stay alert!" The class responds in unison: "Stay alive." The Center for Urban Families offers this course in a blush brick building across the street from where Freddie Gray's funeral...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Thousands of National Guard soldiers and hundreds of extra state troopers helped maintain calm in Baltimore the day after a curfew took effect. The city has been waiting for a full report on the details of what happened to Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old black man died with a severe spinal injury after being arrested earlier this month. The police department had indicated a report on Gray's death would...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: We begin this hour in Baltimore where police have been struggling to put down riots that broke out after the funeral of Freddie Gray. Gray was an African-American man who died while in police custody a week ago. After looters set fire to buildings and clashed with police, Maryland's governor tonight declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. Baltimore police say 15 officers have...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: We begin this hour in Baltimore, where riots have broken out shortly after the funeral of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African-American man who died in police custody a week ago. There's looting in downtown Baltimore, with at least one drugstore set on fire. Baltimore police say at least seven officers have been injured in a violent clash with a large group of youths. One officer is described as...

Lina describes herself as strong and independent. Born in Yemen and brought to the U.S. as a toddler, the 22-year-old now works retail at a mall to pay her way through college. "I was raised very, very Americanized. I did sports, I did community service, I worked," Lina says. (NPR is not using her full name because she fears retribution from her family.) When people hear her story, she says they tell her, "I never thought that this would ever happen to you." A year ago, Lina says her parents...

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag , and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog. This week, we bring you a bounty of six super insightful reads. From Jennifer Ludden, a national correspondent for NPR News: My son's Little League team recently got...

This is the second in a two-part story about Wal-Mart. Read and listen to Part 1 here . One of the biggest objections critics often raise about Wal-Mart is how it treats its workers. The company has long been hammered by critics for its low pay and erratic work schedules. And its worker policies have a major impact on economies: With more than 2 million people on the payroll — 1.4 million of them in the U.S. — it's the third-largest employer in the world, behind the U.S. Defense Department...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Indiana lawmakers remain on the defensive over the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Opponents say the law, signed last week, sanctions discrimination against gays and lesbians. Some companies say they may avoid doing business in the state. Today, Indiana's Senate Republican leader, David Long, said he would not have voted for a bill that allows discrimination. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING...

Of the million or so women who have abortions every year in the U.S., nearly a quarter end their pregnancy using medications. But just as states have been passing a record number of restrictions on surgical abortion, more are trying to limit this option as well. One of the country's strictest laws is in Ohio. To understand it, a little history helps. The Food and Drug Administration first approved mifepristone, or RU-486, for abortion back in 2000. It laid out guidelines: women must see a...

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