The one with all the math


In his letter to the editor (“By the Numbers, Abortion Affects Few Americans,” October 23), statistics professor Douglas Lonnstrom cites the relatively low percentage of actual abortions, in the universe of American voters, as the reason “that abortion does not exist anywhere”. close to a major problem like inflation, crime, borders and energy. I’ll give him credit that there are other major issues, but that’s it.

In 1967, a restraining order preventing publication of the “Pentagon Papers” was issued to the New York Times. According to Lonnstrom’s logic, this could not concern me, since I was neither the editor of a newspaper nor the owner of a newspaper. So issues of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, prior restraint, and the war in Vietnam itself must have been “far from a major issue” for me. Never mind that I was in college at the time and doing military service (which I bypassed, in 1968, by enlisting in the army).

Likewise, maybe I shouldn’t worry about minority suffrage, same-sex marriage laws, and a number of other seemingly non-major issues, if I don’t find myself personally a member of all these classes. And, more specifically and more locally, do I care about PFAS in the water supply in Hoosick Falls or the toxic air around the Norlite plant in Cohoes? No, the air around my house is fine (I think), my water is not contaminated, and I’m a few hundred feet above sea level, so environmental concerns can’t be an issue major for me.

Let’s come back to the problem in question. The Pew Research Center notes, “In our most recent survey, 61% of American adults say abortion should be legal all or most of the time, while 37% say it should be illegal all the time. or most of the time.” That’s the point. Issues here include bodily autonomy, who makes health care decisions for whom, access to health care, religious influence in legislation, and so on. And many of us consider these – yes – major issues.

For my part, I am among those, despite my personal inability to abort. And I suggest that Lonnstrom, as good as he can teach statistics, take advantage of some courses – he can probably check them out without paying tuition – in the departments of political science, psychology, sociology and history, to broaden their view of the world.

Posted on October 31, 2022


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