By Michele Yeo
Scam artists have become the new serial killers when it comes to getting the documentary treatment. Stories like The Tinder Swindler, Bad Vegan, and Inventing Anna about scammers who fleeced people out of their money have captivated audiences, inspired endless memes, and made us all suspicious of anyone asking for a loan. But Netflix’s latest scam story is easily its sickest and most unsettling. Our Father tells the true story of Dr. Donald Cline, an Indiana gynecologist and fertility specialist who, unbeknownst to his patients, used his own sperm to inseminate them. Whether he was motivated by the genuine, albeit misguided, belief he was helping his desperate patients, satisfying some deviant sexual desire, or fulfilling some sort of demented divine calling remains unkown, but here are the five most disturbing parts 90 minutes full of chilling content.
The sheer number of illicit inseminations
When Jacoba Ballard, the badass instigator whose 2014 at-home DNA test lights the fuse that ends up blowing the whole story wide open, first suspects something is amiss, it looks like she may have eight half-siblings all fathered by Dr. Cline. By the time the credits roll on Our Father it’s revealed there are 94 offspring that we know about. Because of Dr. Cline’s lack of cooperation, there’s no way of knowing just how many progeny he may have sired before officially retiring from medicine in 2009. Deranged.
Spousal sperm swap
For the most part, the patients who sought artificial insemination from Dr. Cline believed they were being inseminated by anonymous donors who were medical residents. Dr. Cline led his patients to believe each medical resident would be used no more than three times so as to not populate the state with too many biologically-related half-siblings. Not only did the demented doctor not abide by his promise, using his own sperm instead of the residents, he also used his own sperm countless times and, in at least one case, used his own sperm when his patient’s husband’s viable specimen was suposed to be used, meaning at least one of his offspring lived her whole life not knowing her father wasn’t actually her biological father. Deplorable.
A Quiverfull connection?
While it’s never confirmed, Dr. Cline’s extreme religious devotion (the man performed backyard baptisms!) suggests his actions may have been motivated by a potential involvement in the Quiverfull movement, a highly conservative arm of Christianity which is anti-birth control, anti-aborton, anti-sterilization, and promotes extreme procreation in an effort to populate the Earth with more Christians which some believe means more Caucasian people. Cline’s affection for the biblical verse Jeremiah 1:5 (popular in the Quiverfull movement) which states “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you,” leads some to believe he was at least tangentially related to the movement. The majority of Cline’s 94 children are also blonde and blue-eyed. Chilling.
Just when we thought the story couldn’t get any sicker, we learn that one of the depraved doctor’s unknowing offspring went on to become one of his patients meaning he performed invasive gynecologic exams like pap smears on her without her knowing he was actually her biological father. The woman recounts feeling doubly violated by Cline in the documentary. Demonic.
Dr. Cline hasn’t truly faced any severe consequences
While few would disagree Dr. Cline’s actions constituted a crime, he’s never been formally prosecuted. His victims began to slowly unravel his deception in 2015 but at the time, there weren’t any specific laws on the books in Indiana relating to what he did. In 2017 he was brought to trial to face two counts of felony obstruction of justice for lying during the investigation (for which he received a suspended sentence and a whopping $500 fine) He was banned from practicing medicine which was anticlimactic and pointless since he was already well into retirement at this point and Dr. Cline has served not one day in jail for his actions. In 2018 one of his 94 offspring, Matt White and his mother Liz led the charge in passing Indiana’s fertility fraud law but there is still no federal law on the books. Appalling.