Mother, daughter share story of fertility doctor accused of using his sperm to impregnate patients

A mother and daughter share their story with News 18's sister station, WTHI-TV, about Dr. Donald Cline, an Indianapolis fertility doctor accused of using his own sperm to impregnate women. (WTHI-TV Photo)
A mother and daughter share their story with News 18's sister station, WTHI-TV, about Dr. Donald Cline, an Indianapolis fertility doctor accused of using his own sperm to impregnate women. (WTHI-TV Photo)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Deborah Pierce knew she wanted to be a mother.

“I wanted my own child, that’s just the bottom line,” she said.

She sought out a fertility doctor in Indianapolis, Dr. Donald Cline. Through artificial insemination, Pierce became pregnant.

“I love my daughter, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her,” she said.

Her daughter, Jacoba Ballard, wanted to find out if she had siblings. She says about two years ago she began her search.

“I decided that I wanted to take a DNA test, I had been told that I was from donor sperm,” Ballard said.

Ballard says the sperm was supposed to come from a medical resident and was only allowed to be used for no more than three successful pregnancies. At least, that’s what the doctor told her mother.

“When I took the test I found seven siblings, so right then, we all kind of questioned what was wrong,” Ballard said, “We knew something was wrong because one, there was a seven year gap. A lot of people that aren’t even in the medical field know that a residency is three to four years, not seven. So what kind of residency is going to be seven years?”

Going off of that information, Ballard says she, along with a few of her siblings, started to investigate. Through ancestry and tests, Ballard says they were able to narrow it down to two answers.

“We had narrowed it down to where we thought it was one of his family members or him,” she said, “We weren’t for sure.”

By him, Ballard means Dr. Cline. After reaching out to several news stations in Indianapolis, Ballard says one replied to her plea for help. Eventually, Ballard underwent more DNA testing. The results proved that the sperm, used to help conceive Ballard, was 99.9% Dr. Cline’s. Ballard says a complaint was filed with the attorney general and the prosecutor’s office.

In March, Ballard says she and her siblings met face-to-face with Dr. Cline to get answers. That’s where Ballard says Cline admitted to using his own sperm to impregnate his patients at least 50 times.

“He was very cold, distant, really factual and he brought up a lot of bible verses trying to back up what he did,” she said, “I told him to put it away, to stop, don’t use God to make excuses for what you did. This has nothing to do with God, this is you. We all wake up every day and we have choices that we make in our life, and you can either choose to do right or choose to do wrong.”

Ballard says while Cline was using his own sperm, her mother had no idea.

“I couldn’t believe it actually, I didn’t really know until the prosecutor’s DNA test report came out and it was 99.9%,” Pierce said, “You feel like he deceived you, you were lied to.”

Pierce said if Cline had asked her to use his sperm for artificial insemination, she would have declined. While her trust has been broken, Pierce says she has found it in her heart to forgive Cline for what he did.

“I have forgiven because if you don’t forgive, it’s going to eat you up, and so I have forgiven,” she said, “but I do think the laws need to be changed, we need people on our side to change the laws.”

As for Ballard, she says her emotions change by the day when it comes to forgiving Cline. When asked if she could ever see herself having a relationship with him in the future, the answer is questionable.

“It’s really hard to forgive him. I hope I get to that point one day because I think carrying around that bitterness… it’s hard,” Ballard said, “It does hurt you emotionally, even though you want to say it doesn’t. One day I hope to forgive him, but until he can actually be truthful and him and his family can actually come to terms with this and admit it, then it’s going to be hard for me to heal.”

Ballard says Cline was charged with obstruction of justice. In the meantime, she says she will continue her fight to push for more laws in Indiana so that this doesn’t happen to someone else.

She says while many siblings have since come out, others have turned away.

“That hurts, and I hope one day they will see the bigger picture that I never thought a year ago my face was going to be out in the public, I didn’t think my name was going to be in the public, but if I can save another family from this heartache then so be it,” she said, “I feel like this is my calling, to be an advocate for people, so I’m going to take it and roll with it and try to help others.”