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Crime

US fertility doctor who used own sperm to impregnate women surrenders licence

A retired Indianapolis fertility doctor who lied about using his own sperm to impregnate women surrendered his medical licence Thursday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2018, 6:12am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2018, 8:21pm

A retired Indianapolis fertility doctor who lied about using his own sperm to impregnate women surrendered his medical licence on Thursday to a state board that also barred him from ever seeking its reinstatement.

After a lawyer for Dr Donald Cline surrendered his expired licence to the Indiana Medical Licensing Board, the seven-member panel voted to prohibit the 79-year-old Cline from ever applying for a licence in Indiana again.

Indiana’s supervising deputy attorney general, Laura Iosue, asked the board before that vote to consider the impact of Cline’s actions.

“It’s particularly egregious. The important thing is that Dr Cline doesn’t practise anymore,” she said.

Cline, who retired in 2009, was given a one-year suspended sentence in December after pleading guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice.

He had used his own sperm to impregnate possibly dozens of women after telling them the donors were anonymous.

No other charges were filed against Cline because Indiana law does not specifically prohibit fertility doctors from using their own sperm.

Cline was charged after lying to investigators, and he had faced up to three years in prison on each count.

The charges stemmed from two confirmed cases of paternity, but children of women treated by Cline have said DNA tests show he is likely the biological father of as many as 20 of them.

Cline apologised “for the pain my actions have caused” during his December sentencing, although he did not specify how often he used his own sperm in procedures.

But court documents state that he told one of his biological daughters, Jacoba Ballard, that he had done so about 50 times in the 1970s and ’80s.

Ballard said at Thursday’s hearing that Cline’s actions have “affected me in every possible way”.

“He’s portrayed as this man that’s remorseful,” she said.

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A total of 10 people who believe Cline is their biological father attended the hearing with their mothers.

Many of Cline’s former patients and their children are now focusing on persuading Indiana lawmakers to pass a measure that would deem a fertility doctor’s use of his own sperm as a crime.

Matt White, who learned as an adult that the “anonymous” sperm donor who impregnated his mother was actually Cline, called the surrender of Cline’s already expired licence “a slap on the wrist”. But he said he appreciated the board barring Cline from ever seeking to seek reinstatement of his licence.

“That was a small victory,” he said.