The true story behind Our Father, the new Netflix documentary everyone is talking about.

From Bad Vegan to The Tinder Swindler, Netflix have carved out quite the niche creating gripping documentaries. And this week, they dropped their most disturbing one yet: Our Father.

The new documentary from the streaming service giant centres around Dr. Donald Cline, a fertility doctor who secretly used his own sperm when inseminating his IVF patients. As a result, it saw the former doctor fathering at least 50 children throughout the 1970s and '80s.

Watch the trailer for Our Father here. Post continues below.

Video via Netflix.

Yep, the story is wild. And while it sounds too shocking to be real, the facts and people involved all are. Here's the true story behind Netflix's new documentary, Our Father.

Who is Donald Cline?

Donald Cline was a well respected, top fertility doctor in Indiana. He opened his fertility clinic in 1979, and if you were struggling to conceive and lived in that area, it was highly likely you would end up going to see Dr Cline. 

Cline had told the women who came to him for help that he used the sperm of anonymous medical residents that resembled their husband, and in some cases they were told that they would get the husband’s sperm.

However, they were inseminated with neither.

Image: Netflix.


How many children did Donald Cline father?

DNA testing did not exist when Cline was practicing, so he assumed he'd never get caught. The former doctor also told his patients they shouldn't tell their children how they were conceived.

Our Father director, Lucie Jourdan, said in an interview with The Guardian: "It was a very specific directive that you never ever tell your children you had fertility issues or insemination.

"This was part of the dialogue he had with his patients. They were trusting their doctor to give them the right advice."

But when DNA tests became popular like and 23andMe, those sharing Cline's DNA began to connect the dots.

A 2019 report by The Atlantic details how the half-siblings - who all lived near one another - found each other and began to piece everything together; with Jacoba Ballard being one of the first.

After she registered on an online forum for adoptees and donor-conceived children, she found another woman whose mother had been treated by Cline. A test confirmed they were half-sisters and revealed more matches.

In the trailer, 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," one said.

According to the documentary, Cline fathered as many as 94 children.

Image: Netflix.


Where is Donald Cline now?

When Cline's actions were discovered, the state of Indiana had no state or federal law that could criminalise them. In fact, it took until 2017 for Cline to pay for his crimes.

As per the documentary, Cline retired from medicine in 2009, and eight years later, he was charged with two counts of felony obstruction of justice. Ultimately, he was fined just $500 and given a year probation. 

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.

Unfortunately, no other charges were laid against him, and the former doctor, now in his 80s, served no time for his actions.

In 2019, Indiana became the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation that makes it a criminal offence for fertility doctors to use their own sperm without their patient's consent.

Matt White, one of the children fathered by Cline, worked with lawmakers to get the bill passed.

"We were told there were no laws to charge Cline or others that would engage in similar deplorable actions and the only thing to do would be to create a law. Should this issue arise again in the future, the patients and children are protected," White told WRTV Indianapolis.

"This was a team effort full of a lot of sacrifice, dedication, and persistence. We educated Indiana’s legislators, got our bill passed, and not going to stop."

Cline's current whereabouts are unknown.

Our Father is available to watch on Netflix now.

Feature image: Netflix.

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