Jacoba Ballard Now: The ‘Our Father’ Sibling Is an Advocate Today

jacoba ballard

Netflix/Twitter A Netflix promotional image for "Our Father."/Jacoba Ballard.

Jacoba Ballard is an advocate today who is working to change laws that would criminalize actions like those of Dr. Don Cline, featured on “Our Father.” Ballard and more than 90 half-siblings were conceived through artificial insemination, and Cline used his own semen without the knowledge or consent of his patients, according to the Netflix documentary.

The actions were not illegal in the state of Indiana at the time the investigation was opened in 2015, and Cline was already retired in Indianapolis, Indiana. The investigation resulted in a change to the law in Indiana in 2019, and a similar case in Texas also resulted in a new law.

Jacoba Ballard began unraveling the truth of her ancestry and her siblings with a DNA test. Ballard took a 23andMe test in 2014, and learned she had seven half-siblings. She contacted the siblings to learn about their mysterious familial connection, and realized each of the mothers had seen the same fertility doctor.

Here’s what you need to know:

Ballard Uses Her Instagram Page as a Platform to Help Change the Law & to Advocate for Patients & Children in Similar Cases

Ballard uses her social media accounts to advocate for changes to the law that would criminalize actions like those of Cline. She wrote on Instagram that a similar case was unfolding in Iowa.

“Dr. Sidney Yugend used his own sperm unknowingly on his patients as well,” she wrote. “Mark Hansen became my friend through us sharing the trauma of our conceptions. He is just one of the many that are part of my tribe. Iowa currently does not have a law. Please contact Iowa’s House leadership and request SF 529 to be added to the schedule for a vote! Let’s get protection for the citizen’s of Iowa.”

She also uses her platform to reach out to other children who were donor conceived, and to provide support to patients and children who were in similar situations to her and the other Cline siblings.

Ballard wrote on Instagram that she is unable to trust the medical community due to the actions of Cline and many doctors who supported him. She shared posts from prominent doctors who wrote to the judge on behalf of Cline.

“Another letter to the judge on Cline’s behalf. Another prominent doctor,” she wrote. “There are more like him too along with their families. I wish myself and siblings that are sick could get proper medical treatment and be diagnosed. It’s hard when you can’t even trust the medical community and are surrounded by those in support of him. Last year I was so sick I thought I was going to die. It was horrific.”

The Investigation Prompted a New Indiana Law Making Fertility Fraud a Crime & a Similar Case Occurred in Texas

The investigation into Cline resulted in a law that specifically criminalizes fertility fraud. The bill was signed into law by the Governor of Indiana in 2019. The law provides recourse for a patient to press charges against anyone who uses their own genetic material in fertility treatment without the patient’s written consent.

The law says any woman, spouse of child “may bring an action against a health care provider who knowingly or intentionally treated the woman for infertility by using the health care provider’s own spermatozoon or ovum, without the patient’s informed written consent to treatment using the spermatozoon or ovum.”

A similar law was passed in Texas followed a similar case involving a Texas family, according to the Texas Tribune. Eve Wiley’s mother was also artificially inseminated by her fertility doctor without her consent, the newspaper reported.

“My mother’s fertility doctor choose to use his own sperm instead of the sperm donor my parents consented to and selected,” Wiley said in a House Criminal Jurisprudence committee hearing covered by the Tribune. “And he is my biological father, and it is not a crime in the state of Texas.”

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