Tony Gosgnach

The Interim

For almost 15 years, a Toronto-based institute has been serving as a one-of-a-kind research resource for Canadian pro-life supporters.

The De Veber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research (formerly known as the Human Life Research Institute) retains experts from a variety of fields to perform research which has resulted in the publication of several reports and books.

“We were founded in l982 – a group of academics, lawyers and physicians,” says Ian Gentles, vice-president and research director. “Our goal was to generate research and publication on issues like abortion and euthanasia, sexual education, infanticide and so on, which would be rigorous, objective and of use to legislators, policy makers, journalists and people interested in life issues.”

The Institute, which functions as a charitable organization, is named after Dr. Barrie de Veber, its founding president and a retired professor of pediatrics at the University of Western Ontario.

“We’re the only group doing this type of work in Canada,” says executive director Eunice Lai. “We try to address a lot of different issues. The ability to do that usually depends on the resources made available to us.”

“We aim to respond to issues as they arise and provide information,” she adds. “From the pro-life academic point of view, there isn’t a lot of quality academic material being produced, especially from a Canadian perspective.”

She says students often tell her of the frustration they experience in trying to find scholarly pro-life information for essays they write

“We try to make the writing as user-friendly as possible,” she said. “A high school or university student can use the research in their own academic work while a lay person will find them useful right off the shelf of their public library.”

Works produced by the Institute include A Time to Choose Life, a l990 book which dealt with women’s rights, feminism and the law. “It’s still fairly popular because it’s easy to use and is done as an anthology of essays,” says Lai.

Another completed work is philosophical and examines the personhood of the embryo. Last year, the Institute published Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: The Current Debate, which included essays on pain control, care of the dying, the Sue Rodriguez case and laws on euthanasia.

“The Institute is currently completing the third edition of one of its most popular books, Abortion’s Aftermath. “People really need more information on this aspect of the abortion issue,” says Lai. “There is always a need for quality academic research which people can draw on and use.”

The Human Fetus, a collection of medical knowledge on the fetus, and a legal primer on the legal status of the fetus with a focus on Canada, are other works currently in development.

On the electronic front, the Institute is establishing a World Wide Web presence to more widely distribute research materials and deal with inquiries. The Institute is also called on to provide academics to people who can help.

Lai says research work is often performed by the people who sit on the Institute’s board of directors, but a search takes place outside the organization if the need exists for someone with a different kind of expertise.

She says the Institute works mainly on the basis of a dedicated volunteer staff, with funding from donations and occasional research grants.

If you would like to help the Institute with its work or request information, write to The De Veber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, 2057 Danforth Ave, Suite 303, Toronto, Ontario. M4C lJ8. Telephone (4l6) 693-7030. E-mail