Donald Cline Obituary: A Controversial Figure In Reproductive Medicine

The Life and Career of Donald Cline

Donald Cline was a prominent reproductive endocrinologist who practiced in Indiana in the 1970s and 1980s. He was known for his pioneering work in the field of fertility treatments and helped countless couples conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other procedures. Cline was also a controversial figure, however, due to his practice of using his own sperm to impregnate some of his patients without their knowledge or consent.

Cline was born in 1938 in Indiana and studied medicine at Indiana University. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Minnesota and went on to specialize in reproductive endocrinology. In 1979, he founded the Reproductive Endocrinology Associates of Indiana, which became one of the most successful fertility clinics in the state.

The Controversy Surrounding Donald Cline

In 2016, news broke that Cline had used his own sperm to impregnate some of his patients during the 1970s and 1980s. This revelation came to light after several of his former patients took DNA tests and discovered that they were related to each other, as well as to Cline himself. Some of these patients had specifically requested donor sperm from other sources, while others had no idea that Cline had used his own sperm to conceive their children.

The news of Cline’s actions caused outrage and shock among his former patients and the wider medical community. Many people were appalled that a doctor could use his position of power to violate the trust of his patients in such a profound way. Cline himself initially denied the allegations, but later admitted that he had used his own sperm to father at least two children.

The Aftermath of the Scandal

After the news of Cline’s actions broke, many of his former patients and their families filed lawsuits against him. In 2019, Cline pled guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice for lying to investigators about his use of donor sperm. He was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine.

The scandal also prompted a wider discussion about the regulation of fertility clinics and the use of donor sperm. Some experts argued that there needed to be stricter guidelines in place to prevent doctors from using their own sperm or violating the consent of their patients. Others pointed out that the use of donor sperm was often shrouded in secrecy and that patients should be given more information and control over the process.

The Legacy of Donald Cline

Donald Cline’s legacy is a complex and controversial one. While he was undoubtedly a talented and innovative reproductive endocrinologist who helped many couples conceive, his actions in using his own sperm without his patients’ consent have tainted his reputation and caused immense harm to many families. The scandal that erupted around his actions has also highlighted the need for greater accountability and transparency in the field of reproductive medicine.

Despite the controversy surrounding Cline, his contributions to the field of fertility treatments cannot be overlooked. His work paved the way for many of the advances in IVF and other procedures that have helped countless couples conceive and start families. However, it is also clear that the medical community must learn from the mistakes of the past and work to ensure that patients are always treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.


The story of Donald Cline is a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked power and the importance of informed consent in the medical field. While Cline’s actions were certainly extreme, they have prompted a much-needed conversation about the ethics of reproductive medicine and the need for greater protections for patients. As we move forward, it is crucial that we learn from the mistakes of the past and work to create a more just and equitable healthcare system for all.