NEW YORK, October 26, 2005 ( – UNICEF, the United Nations arm to assist children, has been mired in anti-life controversy for decades. That negative reputation continues to harm the organization despite some changes in the right directionÂthis year. As UNICEF gears up for its annual Halloween fundraising drive, pro-lifeÂcitizensÂare being warned not to participate in the UNICEF Halloween boxes campaign or to donate when trick or treaters come canvassing. Alternatives such as collecting money for crisis pregnancy groups, moreÂconisistently pro-child agancies or inserting explanatory notes into Halloween boxes have been suggested..

UnicefUNICEFÂhas beenÂimplicated in population control and “family planning” measures for many years as thoroughly documented in Winnifred Prestwich’s 1993 pamphlet UNICEF Guilty as charged. ÂThe organization descended even furtherÂin 1995 when Carol Bellamy a radical pro-abortion activist became the executive director of the organization, a post she held till April 2005. From her elevated position, Bellamy turned UNICEF into a more directÂforce behind the promotion of abortion and abortifacient contraceptives working hand in hand with the notorious UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in such activities. (See’s archive on such UNICEF activities: )

The change in focus at UNICEF quickly became apparent causing the Vatican’s UN Mission to issue a press release in 1996 noting that it was withdrawing its symbolic donation of support to UNICEF. The release noted that UNICEF had “begun to divert some of its already scarce economic and human resources from the care of the most basic needs of children” to abortion supporting activities. (see the Vatican release: )

UNICEF BoxThe radical shift in focus was recognized also by Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal, The Lancet, who only last December publicly criticized UNICEF. Horton charged the UN agency has given priority to so-called children’s rights, over its primary mandate – to save the lives of children through improved health initiatives. “It is widely, if regrettably, accepted that UNICEF has lost its way during Carol Bellamy’s long term of office,” wrote Horton, adding, “she has failed to address the essential health needs of children.” (see coverage: )

Beginning this May, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, replaced Bellamy as UNICEF Executive Director. Veneman’s comments at the press conference introducing her in her new capacity indicate a back to basics approach of concentrating on “issues that no child—no human being—should have to confront: malnutrition and hunger, illiteracy and disease, especially the scourge of HIV/AIDS, exploitation and suffering, wars and natural disasters.”

When asked specifically about the reproductive health (read abortion) agenda which had become a hallmark of UNICEF under Bellamy, Veneman responded, “I don’t come with any agenda with regard to those or any other social issues. I come with an agenda of helping children, particularly in the areas of education and health and to address the issues of hunger and malnutrition. I don’t believe that these issues are relevant to the missions of UNICEF.”

Pro-life leaders reacted with optimism to the change but note problems with the organization continue. Jim Hughes, Vice President of the International Right to Life Federation told, “I’m glad to see that UNICEF has changed its central leadership from the radical pro-abortion Carol Bellamy who degraded the foundation to an anti-child group. However, it seems pro-abortion advocates appointed to head UNICEF’s international offices under Bellamy’s lead continue to exert their anti-life influences and thus render UNICEF unworthy of support from pro-lifers.”

A case in point is UNICEF New Zealand, which is currently headed by Dennis McKinlay. Last October, UNICEF lobbied New Zealand parliamentarians against a proposal requiring parental notification for abortions. The nation’s health spokesman, Judith Collins, was promoting a law to require doctors to inform parents when underage girls are seeking abortion in order to curb sexual abuse of minors by adults who often escaped detection since parents were not informed that their daughters were undergoing abortion.

A UNICEF letter to all parliamentarians, signed by McKinlay, opposed the measure suggesting that when parents are informed that their daughters are seeking an abortion, it places the girls at “additional risk from violence.” (See the coverage: )