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
- India’s Parent Package
- Global Trends in Family-Friendly and Work-Life Benefits
- Leave and Family-Friendly Benefits: Deep Dive by Country
- LGBTQ-Friendly Benefits Offered Globally
- Women in the Workforce: Focus on Asia Pacific
- 2 | Sinha C. Is the surrogacy bill regressive? India Today. 2019. https://www.indiatoday.in/india-today-insight/story/surrogacy-bill-2019-whose-womb-is-it-1595195-2019-09-04. Published September 4, 2019.
- 3 | Press Trust of India. Rajya Sabha members seek changes in surrogacy bill over age, eligibility, 5 years marriage norms. India Today. 2019. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/rajya-sabha-members-seek-changes-in-surrogacy-bill-over-age-eligibility-5-years-marriage-norms-1621014-2019-11-21. Published November 21, 2019. Accessed March 9, 2020.
- 4 | Sridharan V. Baby ban: How India’s strict new surrogacy law is practically prohibition. South China Morning Post. 2019. https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/south-asia/article/2182898/baby-ban-how-indias-strict-new-surrogacy-law-practically. Published January 20, 2019. Accessed March 9, 2020.
- 5 | Cheung H. Surrogate babies: Where can you have them, and is it legal? BBC News. 2014. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-28679020. Published August 6, 2014. Accessed March 9, 2020.
- 6 | Intended parents: All you need to know about completing a surrogacy in India. Surrogacycom. https://surrogate.com/intended-parents/international-surrogacy/surrogacy-in-india/. Accessed March 9, 2020.