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Sunday: Paying for babies

Published: 9:06AM Sunday March 02, 2014

How acceptable is the idea of paying for babies?

We know it goes on overseas, in places like the United States where clinics offer big money to fulfill the wishes of desperate, infertile couples.

They will pay tens of thousands of dollars for egg donors and surrogates - women who carry a child for another - and hundreds of dollars for sperm.

New Zealanders overwhelmingly reject the notion, and expect that people who can do it should, for people who can't, motivated by an altruistic desire to help.

But now the Government is being encouraged to take baby steps towards a payment system to egg donors and surrogates.

The Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology is suggesting egg donors receive compensation in the range of $1000 to $3000. And more should be done to meet the expenses of women who act as surrogates.

This week Sunday looks at how surrogacy is working in New Zealand and discovers a groundswell of support for the ACART proposal.

"Surrogacy is still almost like a dirty little secret in New Zealand,'' says Kat Andrews, a 34-year-old woman who has given birth to two children for other couples.

Kat reveals the deals being done under the table, and puts a dollar figure on what surrogates are demanding from desperate couples.

She did it for free, but says the guidelines around paying surrogates' expenses are so murky that surrogates and intending parents live in fear of breaking the law.

"Child Youth and Family really do put the pressure on, they harp on and on about the money aspect. You can't openly and honestly say how you did things because there's still so much fear of the authorities, that they might take someone's baby off them because they broke the rules...over (buying) $13 folic acid (for the surrogate)."

Phil and Olivia, a couple desperate to find a surrogate, believe fair compensation would help their search.

According to Phil: "It would be hugely generous to do this for us, so I think to be able to give something back is acceptable.''

Sunday correspondent Libby Middlebrook also speaks to two Waikato University academics who have developed a new model for surrogacy. It's a radical approach where women would be fairly compensated for their time.

''It seems strange that you would happily pay child minders, teachers, nurses and midwives while still accepting that they...are doing it for love and they want to help and make the world a better place," says Ruth Walker and Liezl Van Zyl.

"Surrogates want to do the same thing but we assume that paying them for doing it would corrupt the process.''

Sunday, 7:00pm tonight on ONE.

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