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.

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Goats and Soda
3:58 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Thousands Of Young Women In U.S. Forced Into Marriage

A year ago, Lina says her parents took her to Yemen because her grandmother was gravely ill. But when the family arrived, Lina's father announced that she would be getting married to a local man.
Renee Deschamps Getty Images/Vetta

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 6:37 am

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."

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The Two-Way
2:34 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

#NPRreads: In Defense Of California And Wearing The Same Thing To Work Daily

#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:

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The Salt
1:59 am
Thu April 2, 2015

When Wal-Mart Comes To Town, What Does It Mean For Workers?

Jessey Drewsen, 25, lives near the H Street Wal-Mart in Washington, D.C. She says she doesn't like the store, but that she goes there for cheap supplies like pens.
Emily Jan NPR

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 1:58 pm

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.

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Politics
2:46 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

Controversy Continues Over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 3:57 am

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
1:36 am
Wed March 11, 2015

States Aim To Restrict Medically Induced Abortions

A view of the eastern entrance to the Ohio Statehouse.
Bob Hall/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 3:08 pm

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.

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Shots - Health News
2:38 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

States Fund Pregnancy Centers That Discourage Abortion

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 6:07 pm

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 decorated in soothing colors.

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Shots - Health News
1:37 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Abortion Restrictions Complicate Access For Ohio Women

Abortion-rights opponent Brian Normile of Beavercreek, Ohio, holds up a poster during a prayer vigil outside Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C., in January.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 6:12 pm

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.

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Shots - Health News
2:36 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Kids' Solo Playtime Unleashes 'Free-Range' Parenting Debate

People who practice free-range parenting say it makes kids more independent, but others see it as neglect. State and local laws don't specify what children are allowed to do on their own.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 12:57 pm

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.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

States Continue Push To Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks

Anti-abortion activists participate in the annual "March for Life" in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 6:32 pm

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 considered viable.

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Law
1:40 am
Wed January 7, 2015

U.S. Court Weighs Texas Law's Burden On Women Seeking Abortions

The Southwestern Women's Surgery Center in Dallas is one of the clinics in Texas that has doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a requirement of HB2.
Rex C. Curry AP

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 10:35 am

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 millions.

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Law
2:54 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Former Virginia Gov. McDonnell Sentenced To Two Years In Prison

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 4:36 pm

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
1:57 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Big Question For 2015: Will The Supreme Court Rule On Abortion?

Protesters rally outside the Supreme Court during the March for Life on Jan. 25, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 11:56 am

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 good year.

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Shots - Health News
1:36 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

As More Women Tell Abortion Stories, Both Sides Claim Advantage

Demonstrators on both sides of the abortion debate protest in front of the Supreme Court in 2011.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 7:29 am

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.

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Shots - Health News
2:35 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

U.Va. Looks At Ways To Curb Drinking At Its Frat Houses

The University of Virginia is trying to crack down on excessive and underage drinking at fraternities.
Jay Paul Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 11:58 am

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.

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Around the Nation
3:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

At University Of Virginia, Efforts Born Of Discredited Story Go On

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:01 pm

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:

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Around the Nation
2:39 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Fallout From 'Rolling Stone' Story Changes Conversation At UVA

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:49 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Business
3:27 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

San Francisco Proposes Predictable Scheduling To Help Hourly Workers

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 4:36 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Around the Nation
4:25 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Two Of Three States Reject Ballot Measures Restricting Abortion

Abortion-rights supporters outside the Supreme Court in January for the annual March for Life. This week North Dakota and Colorado struck down ballot measures restricting abortion, while Tennessee passed an initiative that may result in restricted rights.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 6:11 pm

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.

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New Boom
1:32 am
Thu October 16, 2014

For More Millennials, It's Kids First, Marriage Maybe

Phillip Underwood and Michelle Sheridan and their children, Logan and Lilliana, gather in their living room in Frederick, Md., after a long day of work and school. The couple had delayed marriage, in part for financial reasons.
James Clark NPR

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 7:09 am

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.' "

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Sports
3:00 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

With Dark Humor, Anger And Empathy, Women Respond To The NFL

A Ravens fan trades in her Ray Rice jersey Friday after he was cut from the team over allegations of domestic abuse.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 8:21 am

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.

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Shots - Health News
2:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Colleges Brainstorm Ways To Cut Back On Binge Drinking

Frostburg State University police officer Derrick Pirolozzi conducts a "knock and talk" at a house near campus, reminding students of laws on underage drinking and open containers.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 11:48 am

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 street with open containers.

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Around the Nation
2:45 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Shooting Range Accident Draws Focus On Children Handling Guns

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 5:28 pm

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.

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A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus
9:18 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Student Activists Keep Pressure On Campus Sexual Assault

Dana Bolger, who says she was raped in 2011 while a student at Amherst College, co-founded a group that seeks to educate students about their rights under Title IX.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 9:47 am

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.

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Men In America
1:48 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

More Dads Want Paternity Leave. Getting It Is A Different Matter

Kumar Chandran and Elanor Starmer with their son, Kailas Chandran. The couple's friends are envious of Chandran's paid paternity leave.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 7:14 pm

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 up on subtle cues.

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War On Poverty, 50 Years Later
5:41 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Class Helps Unwed Dads Navigate Ohio's Mom-Friendly Systems

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 7:43 am

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.

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War On Poverty, 50 Years Later
5:04 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

To Break Cycle Of Child Poverty, Teaching Mom And Dad To Get Along

Brittiny Spears, 26, is not with the father of her daughter, Zykeiria, 4. "He just still wanted to go out and party and be a little boy," Spears says.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 7:52 am

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.

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Law
3:21 am
Tue July 1, 2014

High Court's Contraception Ruling Draws Strong Reactions

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 12:24 pm

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.

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Around the Nation
1:01 am
Thu June 19, 2014

U.S. Plan To House Immigrant Kids In Tiny Va. Town Rattles Residents

St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Va., closed last year, but recently struck a deal to lease campus buildings to the federal government. The rent would allow the college to remain open — though not for education — and would provide funds to cut grass, staff guards, issue transcripts and allow the college to find a buyer.
Marisa Penaloza NPR

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 9:01 am

The influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children to the U.S. has sparked a controversy in an unlikely place far from the U.S.-Mexico border: a tiny town in southern Virginia.

The federal government had struck a deal to house some of the migrants in an empty college in Lawrenceville, in the heart of Virginia's tobacco belt. The first busload was expected as early as Thursday, but a local backlash has put the plan on hold.

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The Two-Way
6:01 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

White House Hosts Discussion On Role Of Working Fathers

New York Mets' Daniel Murphy slides to score in a game against San Francisco on Sunday. Murphy, who spoke at a White House discussion on Monday, was heavily criticized earlier this year for missing the first two games of the season to be on hand for the birth of his son.
Ben Margot AP

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy headlined a White House discussion on working fathers today, nine weeks after an uproar over his decision to miss the first two games of the season for the birth of his first child.

The event is part of the administration's push for more workplace flexibility and paid parental leave as it prepares for a Summit on Working Families later this month.

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Around the Nation
4:53 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Stay-At-Home Dads On The Rise, And Many Of Them Are Poor

The number of fathers in the U.S. who stay at home with their children has nearly doubled since 1989.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:38 am

The number of dads staying at home with their children has nearly doubled in the past two decades, and the diversity among them defies the stereotype of the highly educated young father who stays home to let his wife focus on her career.

A new study from the Pew Research Center finds that almost 2 million fathers are at home, up from 1.1 million in 1989. Nearly half of those men live in poverty.

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