The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research conducts and disseminates research on topics connected to human life in its biological, social and ethical dimensions. These topics are selected for study depending on emerging medical, technological and social developments. In undertaking this work the Institute believes that a sense of the inherent value and dignity of human life and of the human person as an end and not a means is a foundational perspective to bring to bear on its work.

The Institute's research may be original or may consist of reviews of existing literature. In each case the Institute's work is to be of the highest academic quality, though accessible to the general public.

From the Director's Desk

The Maternal Health Necessity Myth

The deVeber Institute conducts and communicates research about topics related to the biological, social, and ethical dimensions of human life. The Maternal Health Necessity Myth is one of the summer intern projects that falls under the area of Prenatal Diagnosis. Included is a brief explanation of the Maternal Health Necessity Myth and an excerpt from the research.

Some physicians and politicians have been making claims about adverse effects of fetal abnormalities on a mother’s physical health being a reason for an abortion. Here is an excerpt from the summary of the research into the validity of the Maternal Health Necessity claim:

“However, a mother’s psychological and physical health are two distinct and separate factors, and when physical health is sometimes cited[1], there is no supporting scientific evidence provided that usual fetal abnormalities for which abortions are requested[2] such as Down syndrome and cleft palate have any deleterious physical health effects on the mother at all”

Submitted by Raphael Ma, Summer Intern at the deVeber Institute

[1] Italy (2002) "Abortion Policies; A Global Review" United Nations Population Division Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Page 74 [Available online].

[2] Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria (1998) “Report on late term terminations of pregnancy April 1988” Acute Health Division. Department of Human Services. Victoria, Australia. [Available on-line]

Distance Education = Flexibility for Parenting Students

Athabasca University, in Athabasca, Alberta provides a very unique university experience. It offers unparalleled distance education opportunities. Distance education and flexible class times have been labelled as the most helpful resource available to pregnant and parenting students. Athabasca offers flexible class times as well as classes via internet, cable television, and correspondence for undergraduate, graduate and even doctorate programs. For parenting or pregnant students who are unable to physically attend a university due to geographical, social or financial barriers, this school allows students anywhere in Canada to study long distance in any program that is offered.

Since many parenting students or pregnant students cannot afford child care and need to work daytime hours, distance education is a good opportunity for those who do not want to choose between an education and a family.

Genevieve Bonomi
Student at the University of Western Ontario

University of Toronto Leader in Campus Pregnancy Resources

Throughout Canada, thousands of young people attend University who are aged 19 to 24. This group is also the largest age cohort of women having abortions. The deVeber Institute is researching the resources available to pregnant and parenting students on university campuses in order to better understand some of the reasons that may be behind this statistical flux. 

Preliminary results reveal that the majority of schools in our country are lacking services. Often the resources are not available, or are not made known to students who need them. Of all Canadian universities, the University of Toronto was the only university to offer all of the following:

Compassionate End of Life Care community talk a success!

The mission statement of the deVeber Institute states that the Institute, “conducts and disseminates research on topics connected to human life in its biological, social and ethical dimensions.” The Institute furthermore carries out the responsibility of communicating the findings of their research to the public. On May 21, 2009, the Institute did just that. Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church (Wellesley Street E. & Sherbourne area, Toronto) graciously hosted a symposium conducted by the Institute on the topic of palliative care. The symposium offered a panel of speakers including Lenore McGuire (Palliative Care Coordinator at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Toronto), and Dr. Paul Zeni (a physician and palliative care specialist in Georgetown, Ontario). The symposium concluded with a warm and helpful Q&A period. The propositions and conclusions of both speakers are fundamental as palliative care is widely misunderstood.

Crime rates? Family formation trends? The relation to abortion.

Among other topics, deVeber is currently conducting research on the relationship between legalized abortion and crime rates and the effects of legalized abortion on family formation trends. The research that deVeber has begun and continues to do on these topics is invaluable as it exposes evidence that disproves the assumptions made about the ‘positive’ effects of legalized abortion. In the case of the relationship between legalized abortion and crime rates, the argument has often been made that an outcome of legalized abortion has been a reduction in the numbers of potential criminals and, therefore, in crime rates. Although this argument has been given much attention by mainstream media, there is a significant body of evidence from the academic community, including notable economists and criminologists, which shows that no such correlation exists and that the opposite may in fact be true. Similarly, on the topic of the effects of legalized abortion on family formation trends, an assumption has come to be widely accepted that abortion has had either no effect on family formation, or if it has, then it has been a positive one. A problem with this assumption that has become apparent to us is that very little research has been conducted on this specific subject. What research does exist, however, shows significant negative effects of abortion on family formation, such as an increase in divorce rates for women with a history of abortion.