It has spent the last quarter-century providing valuable scientific insight into life issues in Canada and, as co-founder and co-president Dr. L.L. Barrie de Veber pledges, the Toronto-based de Veber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, which bears his name, is only just beginning.
“We closed down last year – we ran out of money. But now, we’re up and going again, so thing are looking really good.”
The Institute marked its 25th anniversary this past fall with a celebration at St. Michael’s College in Toronto, featuring refreshments, live entertainment by a jazz ensemble and a lecture by Dr. Deborah Zeni on Young Women at Risk: Abortion and Consent.
The Institute was founded in 1982 as the Human Life Research Institute, a non-profit educational foundation, by de Veber, Ian Gentles (currently vice-president of research) and Keith Cassidy (currently secretary-treasurer). It was renamed in 1996.
Its mandate has been to research and publish studies relating to the impact of bio-technological advances on the family and society and ethical issues in health care, especially those resulting from reproductive technologies. The Institute continues in its commitment to scholarly and unbiased research.
It is the only Canadian organization continuously studying the long-term effects of induced abortion on women’s health. A compilation of this research was published in the 2002 book, Women’s Health After Abortion: The Medical and Psychological Evidence. Other topics of research have included assisted suicide and palliative care, the medical use of heroin and morphine, an evaluation of child sexual abuse prevention programs and a survey and evaluation of sexual education programs offered in schools across Canada. The Institute has also conducted original research on unplanned crisis pregnancies and single motherhood in Canada.
“The pro-choice people say we distorted the data,” laments de Veber. “Well, you can’t distort tables and we used direct quotations in many cases. So it’s an eternal battle.”
He adds it has been a challenge trying to get the Institute’s data published in scientific and medical journals on account of the politicization those entities have undergone. “It shouldn’t be a matter of opinion, whether data is flawed or not. It’s either right or it’s wrong. We’ve invited them again and again – read our book, take our articles, look at them. If you find we misinterpreted them, let us know.”
The Institute has continued through a combination of research grants, the generosity of individual donors and organizations such as Canadian Physicians for Life. Currently, it is focused on forging a Canadian study of post-abortion health, hopefully using records from tens or even hundreds of thousands of medical patients. Another coming project is the interviewing of women who have undergone an abortion in the last 10 years, with a view to compiling valuable data from their experiences.
“Nobody’s really done that,” said de Veber. “They talk about post-abortion complications. What we want to do is show it can be 10 years and later … if 10 or 20 per cent have problems, this is an epidemic.”