Surrogacy in India: Family Planning Legislative Changes

India’s cabinet approved a bill to ease the requirements for surrogacy in India. Does this impact your company’s fertility benefit?

Many companies are reviewing and implementing programs to address the fertility needs of their employees around the world. Eligibility and access to fertility care can vary by country and be influenced by local legislation. One such example relates to surrogacy access in India. The Indian government is currently finalizing legislation to ease restrictions on surrogacy relating to a December 2018 law.

The December 2018 law restricted surrogacy access to couples who were married for 5 years and were diagnosed as infertile.2 The law also required using a family member as the surrogate. Critics of the law considered the stringent guidelines a ban on surrogacy.3,4

The revised legislation broadens eligibility as it “allows married Indian or Indian-origin couples as well as single, widowed and divorced women the ability to use a surrogate to carry their baby.”1 Payments to the surrogate are restricted to medical expenses only.1 The law increases surrogate mother’s medical insurance coverage from 16 months to 36 months.1 The new law still is not inclusive of all groups of people who may wish to use a surrogate, as language is ambiguous on access for LGBTQ families and single fathers.1

As background, in 2002, India legalized commercial surrogacy.1 It was one of a handful of countries to legalize it (e.g., Russia, Ukraine, some U.S. states).5 While it became a multi-million-dollar industry, there were concerns about the risk of exploiting low-income, uneducated women in the country. In 2015, India eliminated surrogacy for international couples.4,6 The 2018 law restricted access even further. The new legislation intends to make surrogacy more accessible while protecting women from the risk of exploitation.

Companies will want to review and update their fertility benefit offering when the bill becomes law. For more information on family-friendly benefits and leave, please see the Business Group resources below.

Business Group on Health Resources

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