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The Cline Siblings’ Injustice

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Last updated on August 1, 2022

In modern society, if a person does a bad thing, they receive a reasonable punishment…right? Not necessarily. This was not the case with Dr. Donald Cline, whose life of secrecy and deceit eventually unraveled before his eyes. 

Who are the Cline siblings?

In 1979, Cline opened the doors to his fertility clinic in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this clinic, he was supposed to help couples who were having fertility issues with pregnancy.

Instead of inseminating women with the provided specimen from either a spouse or donor, Cline excessively and without consent used his own specimen. He did this at least 94 times, on at least 94 different patients. This means that all of these children were, unbeknownst to themselves and their families, half-siblings.

Finding out

In 2014, Jacoba Ballard, one of the Cline siblings, took a DNA test on 23andme.com out of pure curiosity. When she opened her results, she saw 7 half-siblings of whom she had no previous knowledge. After much research and digging, Ballard discovered that her biological father was actually Dr. Cline. She immediately put the pieces of the story together. 

In the Netflix documentary, Our Father, you can hear the first-hand experiences of the Cline siblings. They explain the depression and identity crisis that followed the realization that their father was not who they had thought he was for their entire lives. 

Punishment for the crime

Of course, Cline was not apt to admit to this. However, after much persistence from Ballard and other siblings, a DNA test was taken that proved he was their father. This proof, however, was only legally applicable to the fact that he had lied on a legal document where he denied the charges. At the time of the trial, there was no law against illicit artificial insemination. So, Cline got off with a sympathetic $500 obstruction of justice fee. That’s it.

Making change happen

With the perseverance of Ballard and the other siblings and parents, there is now a law in Indiana banning illicit donor inseminations. However, this applies to Indiana alone. There is still no federal law against this. People should therefore be cautious of the credibility of fertility clinics before they go through procedures.

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