The latest Netflix true-crime documentary, Our Father directed by Lucie Jourdan, tells the shocking story of Indiana fertility doctor Dr. Donald Cline, who has admitted to inseminating patients at his fertility clinic with his own sperm without their knowledge or consent.
In an interview ahead of the documentary’s premiere today, Lucie Jourdan told MovieMaker what she thinks about the Quiverfull theory that several of Cline’s biological children discussed in Our Father.
Quiverfull is a theological position held by some Christians that encourages procreation and views families with many children as a blessing from God.
In searching for answers as to why Cline used his own sperm to inseminate his patients — and even went so far as to discard sperm donated by the patients’ husbands — some of Cline’s children, including the first discovered Cline sibling, Jacoba Ballard, have theorized that Cline may subscribe to Quiverfull beliefs.
However, Cline has never addressed the theory and it is so far unconfirmed. Cline declined to comment or participate in the documentary.
“I cannot speak for him. I have no idea why he did it,” Jourdan told MovieMaker. “This was a victim POV. I went on their journey with them,” she said. “He gives them nothing. He doesn’t answer any questions. And Julie [one of his offspring] said it really perfectly around the kitchen table. She said, ‘I wouldn’t have to have these conspiracies if he’d just tell us.’ I think by locking them out, you’re watching minds race, right?
“So something as outrageous as, ‘My father who I’ve known to be my father my whole life is no longer my father,’ it suddenly makes absolutely anything possible in your head. And when you’re scrounging for something to hold onto for some answers, this is where they go. I don’t want to get into the legitimacy of Quiverfull and that stuff, because that was [the siblings’] journey looking into it. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they get a voice in it and we’re watching that journey.”
When Lucie Jourdan began making the Our Father, there were 22 known Cline half-siblings born from patients of Dr. Cline in the late 1970s through the late 1980s. Since then, the number of Cline half-siblings has more than quadrupled, as more and more people enter their DNA into databases like 23andMe and discover unknown relatives.
According to Newsweek, there are currently believed to be 94 Cline half-siblings fathered by Dr. Cline, though Jourdan declined to address the total tally out of respect for the siblings.
“I don’t want to give numbers and stuff just out of respect because they are currently processing. And so I think when they’re ready to come forward, we can officially add numbers,” she said.
What bothered her the most about the case, Jourdan said, was listening to people invalidate the siblings’ experiences.
“There’s nothing that’s bugged me more, and especially when you know the origin of this story, is watching Jacoba on the news and people commenting, ‘Well, her mom wanted a baby, she was desperate. That’s what she got,'” Jourdan said. “So it was really important to me when making this film that the audience is never let off the hook. There’s always another moment… where it gets worse and worse, because it’s really paralleling what it’s like for the siblings. Every week there’s a new match. It’s this building momentum that kind of is dizzying, and so these reveals, I wanted them to feel that same way,” she added. “They come at you and you don’t really get a reprieve.”
Main Image: Our Father. Keith Boyle as Donald Cline in Our Father. Photo Credit: Netflix