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

Induced Abortion and Subsequent Development of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is one of the most fatal malignancies affecting women around the world. In 2009 it is estimated that 21,550 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the USA and 14,600 will die of the disease. The National Institute of Cancer estimates that each woman has a 1 in 71 chance of developing the disease in her lifetime.

A recent paper by Gierach et al. (2005) found that women who have previously been pregnant and then had an induced abortion had a 31 percent increased chance of developing ovarian cancer. Since over 1,000,000 abortions are performed annually in the US and 100,000 in Canada, a possible role between abortions and induced abortions cannot be ignored and should be further investigated to determine its role.

Quebec physicians are misleading

Quebec physicians who are proposing legal euthanasia misleadingly equate the use of analgesics for pain relief with euthanasia. Palliative care involves taking care of the patient unto death. It involves appropriate pain relief, but does not kill the patient and should not be confused with euthanasia. The legitimate medical practise of palliative care allows a person to die with a sense of dignity and respect, by caring for the person’s physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs. Rather than proposing euthanasia, the Quebec College of Physicians could invest more resources into palliative care, which allows the dying to live the best that they can while they're dying.

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: