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

Saturday

The "Rally for Life" march at the Texas State Capitol in Austin in January. Even groups that oppose abortion are asking for more clarity on exceptions to the state's abortion bans. Suzanne Cordiero/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Suzanne Cordiero/AFP via Getty Images

Wednesday

There are now 25 states with bans on trans health care for minors

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Hilary Fung/NPR

6 key facts about abortion laws and the 2024 election

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Tuesday

Texas Medical Board faces backlash over lack of clarity around abortion ban exception

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Monday

Thursday

Maternal mortality went down in 2022 after spiking in 2021, new CDC report shows

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After an alarming spike in 2021, maternal mortality numbers the next year went back down, according to a report released Thursday. CDC Director Mandy Cohen says the rates are still too high. Rich Legg/Getty Images hide caption

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Rich Legg/Getty Images

Wednesday

The medical community dates pregnancy to the first day of a woman's last period, even though fertilization generally happens two weeks after that. It's a long-standing practice but a confusing one. Nikola Stojadinovic/Getty Images hide caption

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Nikola Stojadinovic/Getty Images

Tuesday

Transgender rights advocates are celebrating a major legal victory

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Monday

Cases about transgender people and their rights have been working their way through the court system for years. Here, people demonstrate in favor of trans rights in front of the Supreme Court in 2019. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP hide caption

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Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Transgender health care must be paid for by state insurance, says an appeals court

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Saturday

Employers are required to make accommodations for pregnant women and new moms like time off for doctor's appointments. Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images hide caption

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Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Tuesday

What's at stake in Idaho abortion case

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The Supreme Court will hear another case about abortion rights on Wednesday. Protestors gathered outside the court last month when the case before the justices involved abortion pills. Tom Brenner for The Washington Post/Getty Images hide caption

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Tom Brenner for The Washington Post/Getty Images

Monday

Lily Padula for NPR

Gay people often have older brothers. Why? And does it matter?

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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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