‘Our Father’ on Netflix: Documentary’s Persistent Questions Answered

Just a few weeks in the past, a viral tweet launched me to Our Father, a Netflix documentary. It is about Donald Cline, a disgraced fertility physician who secretly used his personal sperm to inseminate dozens of sufferers in Indianapolis within the ’70s and ’80s, and the way his actions modified the lives of his organic kids.

the caption of the tweet virtually nailed it: “What the fuck.”

Our Father arrived on Netflix on Wednesday, filled with twists, emotionally painful interviews and extra disturbing reenactments than I believed there could be. (Nonetheless, I watched carefully all through the complete 97-minute runtime.)

The movie interviews a number of of Cline’s genetically linked kids, together with Jacoba Ballard, who took a DNA take a look at at dwelling as an grownup and located she had seven half-siblings. She is launched very early on, and over the course of the movie, the sibling depend will increase. In the long run, it’s revealed that there are not less than 94 Cline brothers.

Lucie Jourdan makes her documentary directorial debut with the movie, which comes from Netflix and Blumhouse Photos. Listed here are the solutions to the highest questions I had after watching Our Father.

Produce other fertility medical doctors inseminated sufferers with out their data?

Sadly sure. In a press release, Our Father director Lucie Jourdan wrote that there are not less than 44 further male medical doctors from world wide who’ve achieved the identical factor as Cline.

“No consent. No respect,” she wrote. “Because of inexpensive DNA testing, these criminals are lastly being caught and uncovered, and compelled to grow to be a highlight they by no means imagined.”

One other documentary, HBO’s Child God, tells the story of 1 such physician. Quincy Fortier, a Las Vegas fertility specialist, additionally used his personal sperm to inseminate unsuspecting ladies and will have fathered tons of of youngsters. Should you can deal with one other story a few rogue fertility physician, the 2020 film is streaming on HBO Max.

Is Donald Cline nonetheless a fertility physician?

Cline labored as a fertility physician in Indianapolis for 38 years earlier than retiring in 2009.

The place is Donald Cline now?

Cline was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in 2017 after he lied to investigators on the Indiana Legal professional Normal’s Workplace (the Netflix documentary reveals he denied utilizing his personal sperm in authorized paperwork), however he has not been arrested. On the time, Indiana regulation didn’t particularly prohibit fertility medical doctors from utilizing their very own sperm. The Medical Licensing Board of Indiana revoked its license in 2018.

Cline is at present alive and in his 80s. Jourdan instructed The Guardian that “he’s lively in his group. He goes to his grandchildren’s swim competitions and stuff like that. There isn’t any hiding.”

What’s Quiverfull?

Quiverfull is an ultra-conservative Christian motion talked about within the movie. These in Quiverfull reject contraception and consider they can assist unfold the phrase of God by having as many kids as attainable. In 2009, NPR reported that Quiverfull was “a small group, in all probability 10,000 fast-growing households, largely within the Midwest and South”.

persistent questions

Why did Cline do that?

It is a large downside, and the documentary does not present a definitive reply. Here is what we all know.

Within the documentary, Ballard recounts an encounter between Cline and a number of the brothers, the place Cline apparently defined that he used his personal sperm to assist moms he thought have been determined for a kid, in keeping with Ballard.

Youngsters produce other theories.


Within the movie, Ballard attracts a hyperlink between Cline and Quiverfull, the conservative Christian motion I discussed earlier, nevertheless it’s not a powerful one.

We be taught within the film that Cline has an affinity for the Bible verse “Jeremiah 1:5”, and Ballard notes that it’s “one of many Bible verses Quiverfull makes use of”. The verse is, “Earlier than I fashioned you within the womb I knew you.”

Cline’s sister Julie Harmon makes one other wild connection, saying that Quiverfull, on the time of the brothers’ conception, was centered on producing extra members of the white race. “They have been afraid that different races have been infiltrating and the white race would finally disappear,” she says. Then we hear from Ballard, who factors out that the majority of Cline’s organic kids have blonde hair and blue eyes. “It is nearly like we’re this excellent Aryan clan,” she says. Once more, there’s nothing tremendous concrete right here to hyperlink Cline to Quiverfull.

The movie additionally reveals Ballard explaining how she realized in regards to the Quiverfull motion. She says the Indiana Legal professional Normal despatched her emails, appeared up the individuals who responded and so they all copied the emails, and thru that discovered that “one of many folks with the state” had a “Quiverfull” e-mail deal with. “. Since this does not actually relate to Cline, I am fairly confused (and I suppose others shall be too) as to why the doc contains these particulars prominently.

The brothers acknowledge that with out listening to the reality from Cline, they solely have theories. “I do not suppose we’ll ever know why he was doing this,” Ballard says.

Was it sexual?

Brother Jason Hyatt additionally speculated on Cline’s motive: “Is it to additional his profession? … Is that this some kind of sexual factor? I do not know,” he says within the movie. “I really feel like he is hiding one thing extra sinister.”

So it was sexual? It’s implied within the doc that Cline collected her personal sperm shortly earlier than inseminating sufferers. Jody Madeira, a professor of regulation at Indiana College, notes within the movie that “to ensure that him to supply this sperm pattern, he needed to masturbate very near the workplace the place a affected person was ready.” In a narration close to the top, “Donald” says, “Was there a sexual connotation to that? Completely not.” It’s unclear if Cline is definitely the one talking on the recording. (An actor for Cline is used elsewhere within the movie to recreate scenes.)

How did Cline secretly use his personal semen so many instances?

Hyatt suggests within the movie that any person should have recognized that Cline was inseminating ladies along with his personal sperm. “To get away with this for many years and no person knew something. No one within the workplace? Come on,” he says. Robert Colver, Cline’s former co-worker, and Jan Shore, his former nurse, deny having any data of Cline’s actions. Shore labored with Cline for 13 years.


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