Our Father: The sickening true story behind the Netflix documentary no one can stop talking about

Courtesy of Netflix

Although some scenes in the upcoming documentary are almost likely fictional or dramatised, the plot is true. Cline opened a fertility clinic in Indiana, US, in 1979, and secretly used his own sperm to impregnate women who visited him for artificial insemination, claiming the donations were from medical residents. As a result, he fathered at least 50 children in the ’70s and ’80s.

It wasn’t until those sharing Cline’s DNA began to connect the dots through the increasing availability of at-home DNA testing and social media, that they realised they were half siblings, and the chilling reality began to dawn on them.

A 2019 report by The Atlantic details how the half siblings found each other and began to piece everything together. Jacoba Ballard was one of the first. After registering on an online forum for adoptees and donor-conceived children, she found another woman whose mother had been treated by Cline, and she also knew another woman. A test confirmed they were half sisters, and revealed yet more matches.

In the trailer for Our Father, some of Cline’s other. children recall that they also learned about him through DNA kits. “When I opened up Ancestry, I had over 3,000 hits,” says one. 

Where is Dr. Donald Cline now?

At the time, there was no Indiana state or federal law to criminalise Cline’s actions, and Cline’s victims struggled to get justice. Cline retired from practice in 2009, and was later convicted on two felony counts for obstructing the investigation in 2017, as per Netflix, for lying to investigators about using his own sperm. 

In 2018, Cline surrendered his license to the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, who also voted to prohibit him from ever applying to reinstate his license again.

Cline was handed a one-year suspended sentence for the two counts of obstruction of justice, and because state law didn’t specifically prohibit fertility doctors from using their own sperm, no other charges were brought against him. Cline, now in his 80s, served no time for his actions.


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