How a Group of Siblings Uncovered a Fertility Doctor Who Was Serially Impregnating His Own Patients

The sibling's quest to find answers and justice is the focus of the new Netflix documentary, Our Father, which begins streaming today

This Sept. 12, 2016 booking photo provided by Marion County, Ind. shows Donald Cline. In December 2017, Cline receive a one-year suspended sentence for lying when he’d denied being a sperm donor to unwitting patients. At his sentencing, Cline said he was “very sorry for the pain my actions have caused” but didn’t specify how often he was a sperm donor; court documents say he told Jacoba Ballard it was about 50 times. (Marion County, Ind. via AP)
Donald Cline. Photo: Marion County, Ind. via AP

In 2014, Jacoba Ballard decided to take an at-home DNA test. An only child who was donor-conceived, she was always curious about whether she had any half siblings.

Her search led her to a shocking discovery. She learned she had at least seven half siblings — and that their mothers' fertility doctor, Donald Cline, had been artificially inseminating his patients with his own sperm. He did this without their consent or knowledge; Cline's patients were under the impression they were receiving sperm from donors.

Ballard, 41, and her half siblings' quest to find answers and justice is the focus of the new Netflix documentary, Our Father, produced by Blumhouse Television, which is streaming now.

Ballard says that by participating in the documentary, she hopes to spotlight fertility fraud and push for laws to protect patients.

"The reason I decided to tell my story in Our Father is because it's incredibly important to me to spread awareness about fertility fraud and hopefully create some meaningful change for patients across the world," Ballard tells PEOPLE. "Donald Cline unfortunately isn't the only fertility doctor who has committed this unspeakable violation and I want to hopefully prevent it from happening again."

Our Father. Jacoba Ballard in Our Father. Cr. Netflix © 2022
Jacoba Ballard. Netflix

Ballard, a former paramedic, says, "We need donor conception laws and laws defining clear definitions of consent in every state in regard to sexual assault and rape."

In 2017, Cline pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice, admitting he'd inseminated his patients without their consent or knowledge, Newsweek reports. He was given a one-year suspended sentence and served no jail time, the Associated Press reports.

Ballard says patients need to be vigilant.

"Because someone is in a position of power or authority, [it] doesn't always make them completely trustworthy," she says. "It's okay to raise any flags or questions throughout your treatment to try to ensure that you are receiving ethical and proper care. Because that's what we all deserve."

Our Father. Heather Woock in Our Father. Cr. Netflix © 2022
Heather Woock. Netflix

Ballard's half sibling Heather Woock, 36, learned that Cline was her father at the same time she learned she was donor-conceived in 2017.

"This led to an identity crisis," Woock tells PEOPLE. "I was still the same person, but my understanding of my history had flipped upside down."

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Woock says she hopes the documentary will "prompt Cline's former patients to have an open conversation with their children, so they can take DNA tests to confirm their genetic identities."

Woock believes that Cline's actions remained secret for so long because "most of our parents didn't openly talk about their infertility struggles with loved ones. The more we destigmatize infertility, combined with technological advances, the less likely it is for a doctor to do this again today."

Our Father, produced by Blumhouse Television, is streaming now on Netflix.

Related Articles