top of page

Projects and Publications

Blending in or standing out? Gendered Political communication in 24 democracies
Bruno Castanho Silva, Danielle Pullan, & Jens Wäckerle
Castanho Silva, B., D. Pullan, and J. Wäckerle. 2024. “Blending in or standing out? Gendered political communication in 24 democracies.” American Journal of Political Science 1–16.

Women in male-dominated organizations often must adopt more stereotypical masculine traits to advance within those hierarchies. While politics, historically male-dominated, should induce women to blend in, increasing numbers of women
in parliaments may give women the opportunity to stand out by not adopting masculine style. This paper investigates how these contradictory incentives influence women Members of Parliament (MPs) in 24 democracies between 1987 and 2022, applying machine learning to 7.4 million parliamentary speeches to measure how feminine is their speaking style. Findings indicate a socialization effect, whereby women adopt a more masculine style the longer they stay in office, even after controlling for their speeches’ topics. The effect is strongest for women in socially progressive parties. This research highlights the role of parliaments as gendered workplaces which still lead women to adapt to the male norm, and helps us understand the incentives that shape how women represent women in parliament.


Between the Church and the State: Catholic and European Influences on Abortion Governance in Italy and Beyond
Danielle Pullan & Payton Gannon
Accepted for publication at the Journal of Religion in Europe

Supranational cultural institutions and communities play an interesting role in the development of abortion policy both historically and today. In this paper, we consider two such institutions: the Catholic Church and the European community. The Church is famously anti-abortion, and we describe the ways in which the Catholic position manifests itself in different countries. The European Union, however, allows member states to regulate it, but almost all member states have liberal laws that allow abortion on demand for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Italy sits at the intersection of European and Catholic identities. Italy adopted European-style liberal abortion laws early, but Italians continue to identify with the Church in social surveys, which is one of the causes of high levels of conscientious objection by medical professionals. Italy’s abortion policy pleases neither Catholics nor secularists. When countries adopt laws that are liberal de jure but also include conscientious objection, de facto abortion access will be difficult due to the dominance of the Catholic position.

Data Discrepancies: Italian Ministry Reports on Abortion, Contextualized
Danielle Pullan & Payton Gannon
Pullan D, Gannon P. "Data discrepancies: Italian ministry reports on abortion, contextualised." Medical Humanities. Published Online First: 09 May 2024. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2023-012852

The Italian Ministry of Health reports annually on activities related to abortion and fertility, providing quantitative data that looks ripe for analysis. Actors ranging from activists to medical providers to European courts have criticized the data as misleading, but the Ministry Reports have not changed. In this piece, we bring together different perspectives on this data from inside and outside academia and offer guidance on how it should – and should not – be used in research.

In this article, we collect a wide variety of publications ranging from civil society groups’ reports to court decisions, academic articles, and investigative reporting, and harmonize the way they engage with the Italian Ministry of Health’s data regarding abortion and particularly conscientious objection. 

Analyses rooted in the demographic and medical data about abortion seekers, the abortion rates over time, the different methods of abortion, etc. are trustworthy and can be used to extrapolate levels of abortion access. Data on conscientious objectors systematically undercounts objectors, implying a false equivalence between people who do not object and people who actually work in an abortion service. We recommend that the Ministry report both the number of objectors and the number of medical doctors working in abortion services.

The Italian Ministry of Health produces some valuable data about abortion, but conscientious objection is the key feature of abortion access in Italy, and this key data is flawed. The Ministry could improve clarity and increase citizens’ trust in government reports by adding data on the number of abortion providers.

Where are all the abortion providers? Political, economic, and social predictors of abortion provider distribution in Europe
Danielle Pullan
Presented at CES 2023, APSA 2023, Economy & Society Conference 2023

Unpublished manuscript that will be included in my PhD dissertation based on a novel dataset of abortion provider locations in 10 European countries

Doctors' Rights vs. Patients' Rights: analyzing the implementation of Italian abortion policy in Puglia
Danielle Pullan
Presented at ECPG 2022, ECPR 2022, Cologne Political Science Workshop
Under Review

Unpublished manuscript that will be included in my PhD dissertation based on field research in southern Italy in 2022

Sanctuaries, Islands, and Deserts: Exploring Regionalized Abortion Policy in Italy and the United States
Payton Gannon & Danielle Pullan
Under review

We present a comparative case study on regionalized abortion policy. Italy’s abortion law is national, but implementation is interpreted differently at the regional level. The US has no national abortion policy, allowing the states complete free reign and creating even greater regional variation than the Italian case. We sketch a typology of regional abortion access: sanctuaries where abortion is most protected and available, urban islands with liberal policies that are surrounded by more restrictive territories, and deserts with minimal abortion access. While the present state of abortion governance in the US is difficult to assess in the wake of the Dobbs decision, we describe the ways that it may come to resemble the Italian regionalized abortion governance regime and how it may differ.

Coming Soon!

Evaluating the intersection of attitudes on foster care and abortion among US American evangelicals
Matthew Trail & Danielle Pullan

This project brings together two institutions that affect the size and structure of families: termination of pregnancy and the foster care system, where children without a safe home can still be cared for and perhaps adopted. Activists on both sides of the abortion debate evoke adoption and foster care in their rhetoric. Those who support abortion rights make the argument that there are already too many children living in foster care and that restricting abortion would increase the burden on an already overtaxed system. Many also argue that adoption is not an adequate alternative to abortion. Those who oppose abortion urge abortion seekers to consider placing their children with other loving families, highlighting how badly some prospective families want to adopt and how difficult the process of adoption can be.

These arguments both oversimplify complex issues, conflating adoption and fostering, and imagining that most foster children are newborns. In reality, nearly 60 percent of foster children are between the ages of 6 and 20 years old. The rates for adoption for children 6 and older decrease sharply, with the majority of adoptions occurring for those children 5 years old and under. 

This discourse is also deeply tied to religion in the United States, with divisions falling along religious lines and some church communities explicitly involving themselves in both activism and volunteer work. We are interested in the willingness of community members to “put their money where their mouth is,” taking direct action to support foster children, based in the belief that this is necessary to reduce abortion rates.

We seek to understand how an individual’s attitudes on these topics are related, the role of religion in shaping these attitudes, as well as how these attitudes correlate with general knowledge about both foster care and abortion. We conducted 31 semi-structured qualitative interviews in Spring 2023 with individuals who oppose abortion and are members of two evangelical churches in Tennessee (USA). We explore the intersection of their attitudes and their beliefs about the interconnectedness of the foster care system and abortion policy in a post-Roe context and a total abortion ban at the state level.

Is the EU any more progressive on abortion policy than post-Roe America?
Danielle Pullan
The Loop: ECPR's Political Science Blog

The US Supreme Court recently overturned the federal right to abortion, leaving many open questions about the future of abortion policy in the US and around the globe. Danielle Pullan compares the new post-Roe abortion policy landscape in the US to the current state of abortion governance in Europe, highlighting its similarity to the EU’s approach

bottom of page