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Trick-or-treaters across the country tonight will be bearing familiar orange collection boxes on behalf of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), prompting some pro-lifers to wonder whether they should donate to the controversial organization.

As an arm of the United Nations, UNICEF presents itself as an organization dedicated to promoting the well-being of children, but has been criticized for pushing for liberalization of abortion laws across the world, and supporting population control.

The organization lobbied New Zealand Parliamentarians to oppose a law that would require parental consent for minor abortions in 2004.

News also broke that year that evidence of sterilizing agents had been discovered in a polio vaccine UNICEF had campaigned for in Nigeria.

In 2009, a top UNICEF official publicly opposed a pro-life constitutional amendment in the Dominican Republic, dashing hopes that the organization had taken a more conservative turn after former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman took over as Executive Director in 2005.

Veneman, who was appointed by former President George Bush, had claimed that she didn’t have “any agenda” with regard to reproductive health issues.

Veneman was replaced by in 2010 by President Obama’s nominee, Anthony Lake. Lake has lobbied for U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a document that some fear would undermine parental rights worldwide. 

The organization’s rocky history has prompted many pro-life organizations to encourage Christians to follow the example of the Vatican, which has withheld contributions from UNICEF since 1996.

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