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 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...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Defenders of religious freedom acts like the one that passed in Indiana last week have leaned on history. They noted that President Bill Clinton approved a federal religious freedom restoration act. They've added that the vote in Congress was nearly unanimous. Critics, as we've heard, have noted the federal and state laws are not exactly the same. But it's a strong rhetorical point. There is a federal...

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...

Google "abortion Columbus" and halfway down the first page is a headline: "Your Right to Choose, Abortion in Columbus." It's for Pregnancy Decision Health Center, or PDHC, a chain of six sites in Ohio's capital whose aim is actually to guide women out of having the procedure. Like many of the thousands of crisis pregnancy centers across the U.S., the PDHC near Ohio State University is right next door to a Planned Parenthood. There's a cozy room for private chats and a larger open space...

Ohio may not have gotten the national attention of say, Texas, but a steady stream of abortion restrictions over the past four years has helped close nearly half the state's clinics that perform the procedure. "We are more fully booked, and I think we have a harder time squeezing patients in if they're earlier in the pregnancy," says Chrisse France, executive director of Preterm. It's one of just two clinics still operating in Cleveland, and its caseload is up 10 percent. France says women...

Parents have made news recently after being detained for purposefully leaving children on their own, prompting renewed debate about so-called "free-range parenting." That includes Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, a Silver Spring, Md., couple who are being investigated after they let their children, ages 10 and 6, walk home from a park last month by themselves. Moms and dads who practice this parenting style say it promotes independent, even fearless kids. But what is considered free-range by...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOzSy4Z-2GQ Stumping in Kansas after his State of the Union, the president said that for most parents working today, child care is more than a "side issue," and that improving access "is a national economic priority for all of us." In urging greatly expanded subsidies during his Tuesday address, the president referenced a national child care program that was in place during World War II, when his grandmother and other American women were needed in the nation's...

House Republicans decided Wednesday night to shelve a bill that would have banned abortion at 20 weeks post-conception. But 10 states already ban abortions at 20 weeks and two others are defending such laws in court. Activists are pushing for bans in at least three more states; a panel in the South Carolina Legislature passed one Thursday. But under the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, a woman has the right to an abortion for several weeks after that, until the point when the fetus is...

A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of a hotly contested abortion law in Texas. The measure mandates stricter building codes for clinics that perform the procedure, and Fifth Circuit judges in New Orleans will decide whether that poses an undue burden. The Texas law — HB2 — requires clinics that perform abortions to operate like ambulatory surgical centers. Think wider hallways and hospital-style equipment — upgrades that could cost...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been sentenced to two years in prison on federal corruption charges. It's a lot less than the 10 years or more that prosecutors had sought. Still, McDonnell says, he will appeal. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports. JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: The courtroom in Richmond was packed with McDonnell supporters, including other former governors. A string of witnesses pleaded...

The new year is expected to bring yet another round of state laws to restrict abortion — and 2015 could also be the year a challenge to at least one of these laws could reach the Supreme Court. The ongoing spike in abortion laws started after 2010, when Republicans won big in the midterms. Since then, state lawmakers have passed more than 200 abortion regulations — more than in the entire decade before. And with more statehouse gains in the fall elections, abortion opponents expect another...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbtqDuDhSJE Advocates for abortion rights are increasingly calling on women who've had the procedure to tell their stories publicly in an effort to combat the "shame and stigma" around it. Over the past year, abortion activists have talked about their procedures online, in books and at open forums on college campuses. One put her procedure on YouTube to show, she says, a "positive" abortion story. The video went viral. (Her original YouTube video has been taken...

The University of Virginia is renegotiating its contract with fraternities, which were suspended after a Rolling Stone article described a frat house gang rape. Even though that article has been called into question , U.Va. is sticking with its vow to make changes — and that includes President Teresa Sullivan's plan to crack down on excessive and underage drinking at frat houses. But the way to do that may not be easy. There are dry fraternities, but that idea was quickly dismissed. Tommy...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: When a Rolling Stone article on campus rape began to fall apart, activists immediately knew the real losers - everyone who's ever been a victim of sexual assault on campus. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Rolling Stone captured worldwide attention with its story of Jackie. She was a young woman who said she was attacked at a fraternity. MONTAGNE: But the magazine never contacted the men she accused of attacking...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Low-wage hourly workers have been complaining for years about unpredictable work schedules with last-minute changes. And next week, San Francisco is expected to pass the nation's first law addressing that issue. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports on the Retail Workers Bill of Rights. JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: The legislation aims to help people like Sandra Herrera, a mother of four who's been a cashier at...

Amid all the shakeout from this week's midterm elections, many are trying to assess the impact on abortion. Two abortion-related ballot measures were soundly defeated. A third passed easily. And those favoring restrictions on abortion will have a much bigger voice in the new Congress. In North Dakota and Colorado, voters rejected 2-to-1 so-called personhood measures, which would give legal rights to fetuses. "We've now had fetal personhood be rejected five times in three states," says...

Decades ago, an "oops" pregnancy might have meant a rush to the altar. But when Michelle Sheridan got pregnant three years ago, the topic of marriage never came up with her boyfriend, Phillip Underwood, whom she lives with in Frederick, Md. If anything, it was the opposite. "It changes the dynamic of the household," she says. "I had a friend who put off her marriage. Got pregnant, and she's like, 'Let's just wait, 'cause we don't know if we're going to be able to make it through this.' " That...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_akxPhtZ1Q As the National Football League scrambles to defend its actions in amid a series of domestic abuse allegations against players, some of its harshest critics have been women. Female fans are a key part of the league's business strategy — the NFL says that women make up 45 percent of its fan base — but they haven't reacted to the scandal with one voice. Judging by a recent NBC poll, the scandals are not keeping most fans from the game: Nearly 90...

It's early Friday night, and Frostburg State University police officer Derrick Pirolozzi is just starting the late shift. At a white clapboard house, he jumps out of his SUV to chat with four students on the front steps. "S'up guys!" he calls out, assuring them he just wants to chat. All are underage but one, and that one tells Pirolozzi he has a string of alcohol violations from past years. Pirolozzi banters a bit. He tells them to "call anytime," and reminds them not to walk around the...

A tragedy at an Arizona shooting range this week has set off a debate about children using high-powered weapons, as well as America's gun culture. Shooting range owners are defending their industry as safe, criticizing this particular operator for allowing a small girl to use an Uzi. Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: A shooting range instructor died this week after being shoot by a 9-year-old girl. The accident happened when the girl...

For Georgetown University freshmen, orientation this week included a new activity: mandatory small-group discussions on sexual assault. "For a lot of the kids, this might be the first time they ever actually talk about sexual assault or what consent means in an environment with their peers," says Chandini Jha, a junior who helped lead several discussions and who's been pushing administrators to do this for two years. Georgetown is not among the more than 70 colleges being investigated for how...

After nearly four weeks at home with his infant son, Kumar Chandran has the diaper thing down. "Shhh, almost done," he says, hunching over Kai on the living room floor of their Washington, D.C., townhouse, while his wife, Elanor Starmer, tries to placate the fussy baby. Chandran says there was no question he wanted to be home at this time. The nonprofit he works for offers four weeks of paid parental leave — the same for men and for women. He says this has let him bond with his son and pick...

About a quarter of U.S. families are now headed by a single mother. That means a lot of children without a father in the home, and in some cases, fathers not having much contact with their children. Research shows a long list of possible problems linked to fathers not being involved in their kid's lives — including poor performance in school, behavioral issues, drug and alcohol abuse and poverty. To tackle these, Richland County, Ohio, is trying to get fathers more involved. Copyright 2014...

After a half-century of the War on Poverty, an anti-poverty agency in Ohio has concluded that decades of assistance alone just hasn't changed lives. Instead, it says, the ongoing breakdown of the family is to blame. "You're seeing the same people come year after year, and in some cases generation to generation. And so then you think, why is that happening?" says Jennifer Jennette, program manager of the Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron and Richland Counties in Ohio. The family...

Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Now we get your reaction to both the Supreme Court decisions - first, to the ruling that some businesses can cite religion to opt out of covering contraceptives under the new health care law. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports. JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: In Chicago, a few dozen abortion rights opponents gathered to celebrate the decision as a victory for religious liberty. Emily Zender is with Illinois Rights Alive. EMILY ZENDER: And it is my choice to live out my...

Pages