Selena Simmons-Duffin Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on health policy for NPR.
Selena Simmons-Duffin
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Selena Simmons-Duffin

Olivia Falcigno/NPR
Selena Simmons-Duffin
Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Selena Simmons-Duffin

Health Policy Correspondent

Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on health policy for NPR.

Simmons-Duffin joined the Science Desk in 2019, just a few months before COVID-19 was discovered. During the pandemic, she covered CDC and the vaccine rollout, and ran a year-long project surveying state health departments on contact tracing. In 2022, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, she launched a project called Days & Weeks exploring how abortion bans are changing people's lives.

Before becoming a reporter, Simmons-Duffin worked for 10 years as a producer and editor for NPR's flagship programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered. In 2014, she drove the full length of the U.S.-Mexico border with host Steve Inskeep for the "Borderland" series.

She won a Gracie Award in 2015 for a video called "Talking While Female," and a 2014 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for producing a series on why you should love your microbes.

Simmons-Duffin is a graduate of Stanford University, where she studied English. She took six months off from college to do HIV/AIDS-related work in East Africa. She started out in radio at Stanford's radio station, KZSU, and went on to study documentary radio at the Salt Institute, before coming to NPR as an intern in 2009.

She lives in Washington, D.C., with her spouse and two kids.

Story Archive

Thursday

Hilary Fung/NPR/Myers Abortion Facility Database

How Florida and Arizona Supreme Court rulings change the abortion access map

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Wednesday

Malte Mueller/Getty Images/fStop

The order your siblings were born in may play a role in identity and sexuality

It's National Siblings Day! To mark the occasion, guest host Selena Simmons-Duffin is exploring a detail very personal to her: How the number of older brothers a person has can influence their sexuality. Scientific research on sexuality has a dark history, with long-lasting harmful effects on queer communities. Much of the early research has also been debunked over time. But not this "fraternal birth order effect." The fact that a person's likelihood of being gay increases with each older brother has been found all over the world – from Turkey to North America, Brazil, the Netherlands and beyond. Today, Selena gets into all the details: What this effect is, how it's been studied and what it can (and can't) explain about sexuality.

The order your siblings were born in may play a role in identity and sexuality

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Thursday

Tennessee case: How narrow can a medical exception be in a state's abortion ban?

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Thursday

Boxes of the drug mifepristone sit on a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16, 2022. Allen G. Breed/AP hide caption

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Allen G. Breed/AP

Monday

What's at stake if SCOTUS rules against mifepristone

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Tuesday

The share of abortions that are performed with medication alone (a combination of mifepristone and misoprosotol) increased between 2020 and 2023. Rachel Woolf/The Washington Post via Getty Images hide caption

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Rachel Woolf/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Despite bans in some states, more than a million abortions were provided in 2023

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Saturday

New study raises questions about the CDC's data on the maternal mortality rate

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Wednesday

The new analysis of death certificates says the U.S. maternal mortality rate is in line with other wealthy countries, contradicting an earlier report from the CDC. muratkoc/Getty Images hide caption

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muratkoc/Getty Images

How bad is maternal mortality in the U.S.? A new study says it's been overestimated

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Thursday

Access to the abortion drug mifepristone could soon be limited by the Supreme Court for the whole country. Here, a nurse practitioner works at an Illinois clinic that offers telehealth abortion. Jeff Roberson/AP hide caption

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Jeff Roberson/AP

Abortion pills that patients got via telehealth and the mail are safe, study finds

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Wednesday

Manny and Cayenne wrestle and kiss. LA Johnson/NPR hide caption

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LA Johnson/NPR

Manny loves Cayenne. Plus, 5 facts about queer animals for Valentine's Day

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Friday

The Supreme Court will hear the case against the abortion pill mifepristone on March 26. It's part of a two-drug regimen with misoprostol for abortions in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images hide caption

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Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Research at the heart of a federal case against the abortion pill has been retracted

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Saturday

Mark Guttridge, farmer and co-owner at Ollin Farms, feeds the chickens. The farm benefits from a county program that helps small growers get their produce to more people. Rachel Woolf for NPR hide caption

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Rachel Woolf for NPR

A big idea for small farms: How to link agriculture, nutrition and public health

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Friday

As an evolutionary anatomist, Heather Smith studies the fossil record of extinct species. A sudden appendectomy as a child made her curious about what the appendix is for and why it gets inflamed. Heather Smith hide caption

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Heather Smith

Your appendix is not, in fact, useless. This anatomy professor explains

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Wednesday

The scene at the U.S. Supreme Court on the day it overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Researchers estimate that 64,565 rape-caused pregnancies have occurred in states that banned abortion since then. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Raped, pregnant and in an abortion ban state? Researchers gauge how often it happens

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Wednesday

With an Obamacare boom, comes a Medicaid bust

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Monday

Maribel Martinez shops the produce section at King Sooper's in Boulder, Colo., the day after picking up her Fruit & Veg coupons. Selena Simmons-Duffin/NPR hide caption

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Selena Simmons-Duffin/NPR

To get fresh vegetables to people who need them, one city puts its soda tax to work

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Tuesday

Elizabeth Weller speaks at a press conference in Austin, Texas on July 19. She's one of 20 women suing the state after being denied abortions despite serious pregnancy complications. Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

Thursday

What the current landscape of abortion rights looks like going into 2024

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Wednesday

Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Molly Duane speaks before the Texas Supreme Court in Austin on Nov. 28. The court ruled in a different abortion case on Monday. Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

Tuesday

The U.S. and Texas state flags fly over the state Capitol building on July 12, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Sergio Flores/Getty Images hide caption

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Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Monday

Woman who sued Texas for access to abortion seeks procedure out of state instead

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Kate Cox is about 21 weeks pregnant and her fetus has a condition that is almost always fatal. She is also having problems with her own health that has sent her to the emergency room multiple times. Cox family hide caption

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Cox family

A woman who sued Texas for access to abortion seeks a procedure out of state instead

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This child does not have appendicitis. But if you suspect yours might, ask them to jump. If they can't without major pain, it's time to call the doctor and maybe head to the hospital. Kentaroo Tryman/Getty Images/Maskot hide caption

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Kentaroo Tryman/Getty Images/Maskot

Worried your kid might have appendicitis? Try the jump test

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