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US fertility doctor receives no jail time for using his own sperm in clinic

18 December 2017
Appeared in BioNews 931

A retired fertility doctor who used his own sperm to inseminate patients will not be jailed for his actions.

Dr Donald Cline, from Indianapolis, Indiana, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, and was given a one-year suspended sentence by Marion Superior Court Judge Helen Marchal. Dr Cline avoided further charges because there is no state law which prohibits a doctor from using his own sperm to inseminate patients. 

However, many of the patients and their families felt that the sentence was too lenient: 'The fact is our pain was not acknowledged,' Liz White, one of the former patients, told the Naples Herald.

Diana Kiesler, another former patient, said in an interview with WRTV: 'There are many of us out here that he ruined our lives. I had to go home and tell my husband that he was not the father of my child.'

The case was prompted after an Indiana woman took a home DNA test and discovered she was related to eight other users on the 23andMe database. The eight individuals turned out to be siblings, and each of their mothers were inseminated at Dr Cline's clinic in the 1970s (See BioNews 869).

Because Dr Cline had assured his patients that a sperm donor would not be used more than three times, this prompted the siblings and their parents to file a consumer complaint.

Six of the adult siblings met with the doctor in 2016, and they allege he admitted to donating his own sperm 'around 50 times' to help women get pregnant. However, after an official investigation was launched, Dr Cline told the US Attorney General's Office, that he never used his own sperm. The criminal prosecution relates to this lie.

'What happened 30 years ago was not a criminal offence,' said Tracy Betz of Taft Stettinius & Hollister, Dr Cline's attorney. 'We all make mistakes. We all fall short. He lied. He did so out of fear. He did so out of shame.'

In response to the lack of legislation, the families affected by Dr Cline's actions are lobbying the Indiana General Assembly to pass legislation which would make it illegal for doctors to inseminate patients using their own sperm.

Fertility Doctor Accused of Inseminating Patients With His Own Sperm to Face Judge
Time |  14 December 2017
Fertility doctor pleads guilty to obstruction of justice in insemination case
Indianapolis Star |  14 December 2017
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