United States: fertility doctor given one-year suspended sentence

Publié le 5 Jan, 2018

Thirty years ago, Doctor Donald Cline, a retired fertility doctor from Indianapolis (USA), used his own sperm “approximately 50 times” to inseminate patients. He has just been given a one-year suspended prison sentence by the Marion Superior Court (USA).


Judge Helen Marchal considered that, at the time, “there was no state law to stop a doctor from using his own sperm to inseminate patients“, and according to Doctor Cline’s lawyer, “this was not a criminal offence“.


The case came about after an Indiana woman’s home genetic testing kit revealed family ties with eight other people using the 23andMe database[1]. These eight people turned out to be siblings and all were conceived through artificial insemination carried out in Doctor Cline’s clinic during the 1970s. At the time, the doctor confirmed that no sperm donor would be used more than three times. The children and their parents have filed a “consumer complaint“. In a private meeting with the plaintiffs, the doctor admitted to using his sperm around fifty times but subsequently denied this during the official enquiry. This then led to criminal proceedings.


The sentence was deemed to be too lenient by the many families who fell victim to the doctor’s actions. “This man ruined the lives of so many of us,” explained Diana Kiesler, a former patient. “I had to go home and tell my husband that he was not the father of my child”.


[1] American biotechnology company that offers clients a fee-paying genetic testing service. 

Bionews, Theofanis Michailidis (18/12/2017)

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