Our Father is the harrowing true story of a renegade infertility doctor who fathered 94 children and counting. Here’s what Netflix is leaving out.
Netflix Our father tells the chilling true story of an infertility doctor who fathered over 94 children. The doctor in question, Donald Cline, was secretly using his own semen on unwilling clients. Clients’ husbands would provide sperm for insemination, but Dr. Donald Cline would throw it away and replace it with his own to impregnate their wives. He would then destroy all records of the proceedings to protect himself from any future investigation into his deception. Little did he know, however, that DNA testing would soon become a popular trend and at-home DNA testing would mean his end, with the Netflix documentary telling the story of how his donor children eventually revealed the shocking truth.
Our father tells the stories of Dr. Donald Cline conceived donor siblings and how a simple, well-intentioned DNA test changed their lives forever. The story focuses primarily on Jacoba Ballard, the first sister to research her ancestors. After learning that her mother had conceived her through donor insemination, Jacoba became passionate about finding her birth father and possible half-siblings. Unbeknownst to her, she would soon discover the dark hidden secret of Dr. Exposing Donald Cline’s appalling deception and exposing 94 (and counting) half-siblings.
The brutal documentary from Netflix Our father investigates how Jacoba Ballard and her half-siblings worked together to solve the wrongdoing of Dr. uncovering Donald Cline that eventually led to his arrest in 2017. Given the absurdity that there is no written law that a doctor cannot use his own sperm to fertilize his clients without consent, he was charged only with obstruction of justice for lying to investigators and he did not serve a prison sentence. Our father is largely accurate in retelling this harrowing true story and retains many of the essential details, but it doesn’t cover everything. Here are the facts the documentary made from the story of Dr. Donald Cline and his donor children.
dr Donald Cline instructed his patients to lie to their children
The Netflix true crime documentary hinted at a similar trend among Dr. Donald Cline – their parents had never told them they were conceived by insemination. What the documentary doesn’t address, however, is why. dr Donald Cline strongly advised his clients not to tell anyone they sought help for their infertility. Cline used the taboo surrounding the practice at the time to hide the fiendishly immoral abuse of his own practice. It was a specific instruction that they should keep secret the fact that they used a sperm donor and never tell their children how they were conceived. The patients he deceived believed they had an expert opinion and trusted that they were getting the right advice.
Fresh sperm is not standard practice when using voluntary donors
The chilling documentary from Netflix Our father was produced by horror film specialists Blumhouse Productions, who did not hesitate to delve into the horrific nature of this true story. The specialty of Dr. Donald Cline was fresh sperm and not the frozen variety other doctors used. Aside from the egregious cases in which Dr. Donald Cline discarded his patient’s husband’s sample for his own, some patients needed a donor. In this case, Our father confirms that Cline lied to his clients that he would use sperm from anonymous doctors and that they would not use the same donor more than three times. The documentary emphasizes that Cline only ever uses warm, fresh semen, which is very erratic when using an external donor. Typically, the voluntary donors prepare their samples in advance, and the sperm are frozen for future fertilization. In hindsight, the fact that he only ever used warm semen was an alarming red flag.
Donald Cline lost his medical license
When Our father notes that in 2017, Cline was only charged with obstruction of justice for lying about inseminating his clients with his own sperm. Shockingly, despite being found guilty, Donald Cline never went to jail and simply had to pay a $500 fine. However, the documentary does not say that he also had his medical license revoked. This is perhaps because the documentary’s creators felt it unnecessary to mention it, considering Cline had retired way back in 2009, and it had no weighted consequences for him.
Donor siblings successfully sued Donald Cline
Our father confirms that dr. Donald Cline did not serve time in prison for his heinous violations, but he has since dealt with several civil lawsuits. dr Donald Cline and his group, Indianapolis Infertility, Inc., have settled three civil lawsuits filed by three families of the donor children, and three other lawsuits are pending. To date, more than $1.3 million has been paid in civil lawsuits against the former Indiana fertility doctor. However, most of that was likely paid out through Cline’s professional liability insurance. As a qualified healthcare provider, he would be protected by the Medical Liability Act.
Male infertility has increased at an alarming rate
A slamming question many were asking after watching the Netflix original Our father was why so many couples within 25 miles of Indiana were infertile. Although there isn’t much scientific data specific to Indiana, a statewide study suggests that fertility rates are falling at an alarming rate. Four decades ago, the average Western man had a sperm count of 99 million per milliliter. By 2011, that number had dropped to 47.1 million. This drop is alarming as sperm concentrations below 40 million per milliliter are considered below average and can affect fertility. By 2022, nearly 9% of men of childbearing age in the United States will have fertility issues.
Infertility doctors using their own sperm are disturbingly more common than you realize
Our father briefly mentions that 44 other infertility doctors were caught using their own sperm to get their clients pregnant. The HBO documentary baby god tells the story of one of these doctors. Quincy Fortier was a Las Vegas-based fertility specialist who also used his sperm to inseminate his clients without their knowledge and may have fathered hundreds of children. Another similar story happened in the 1940s when fertilization was a fairly new concept. British infertility doctor Bertold Wiesner may have fathered over 600 children in a pioneering sperm donation program he ran with his wife. This twisted practice seems to have thrived from the start, and since no federal law strictly prohibits it, these doctors can get away with it, as shown on Our father.
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