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Photo:Pro-choice placards,” by internets_dairy licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue is modified from the original.

Brysk, Alison, and Rujun Yang. “Abortion Rights Attitudes in Europe: Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, or Pro-Nation?.” Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society (2023): jxac047.


Despite modernization in women’s public roles, reproductive rights attitudes and policies are becoming more restrictive in some societies. While existing literature depicts abortion opinion as a clash of feminist pro-choice vs. religious pro-life frames, feminist analysis suggests that nationalism may influence reproductive attitudes. Yet no cross-national research has empirically examined the relationship between ethnonationalist sentiments and abortion attitudes. We use the 2017 European Values Survey to analyze how ethnonationalist attitudes are associated with abortion approval in thirty European countries. We find that strong ethnonational identity and distrust of foreigners are positively correlated with individuals’ disapproval of abortion. Counterintuitively, this association between abortion attitudes and ethnonationalism is stronger among less religious and more liberal individuals—and in more “modernized” European countries. Our findings contribute a new factor to the cross-national abortion opinion literature and an empirical demonstration of feminist theory with relevance for reproductive rights.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.