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Lawmakers remove criminal penalty from fertility fraud bill

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A fertility fraud bill is moving forward in the state legislature. This comes after a number of victims in Indiana have said they were unknowingly impregnated by their fertility doctor's sperm.

After a 7-3 vote, a senate committee removed a portion of the bill creating a felony charge of fertility fraud for doctors using their own sperm without the patient's consent. The proposal would now only give mothers and children the right to file a lawsuit in such cases. That decision is making victims really mad.

"There should be absolute trust and truthfulness in that room," said Liz White, a donor mom.

White lived most of her adult life thinking her son Matthew was conceived by sperm from an anonymous donor. DNA results in 2016 told her that wasn't true.

"It should never happen to anyone," she said.

She felt violated when she learned her doctor, Donald Cline, used his own sperm without her consent. Over the years, her family discovered they were not alone.

"Many of us are in therapy, struggling with depression," said Jacoba Ballard, one of the first children conceived with Cline's sperm to come foward.

On Wednesday, she joined several of her half siblings, including Matthew and his mother, to testify in support of a fertility fraud bill that would allow felony charged to be filed against doctors who use their own sperm without the patient's consent.

Despite the testimony, a Senate committee today decided to remove the criminal penalty from the fertility bill being considered. Senator Michael Young said it was not needed because there are already protections in place for fertility patients.

"The issue is we already have laws so we don’t need another one," Young said.

Young said there are at least six other crimes already in state code he believes Cline violated. However, in Cline's case, prosecutors felt there were limitations to how a criminal case could proceed against Cline. In the end, Cline pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and served no jail time.

"If they didn’t prosecute the ones they could already prosecute him on what is this one going to do," said Young

Victims believed the criminal penalty is the only way to hold doctors like Cline accountable.

"Our goal here is not about revenge," said White.  "It is about to establish the egregious behavior Cline did to be forever against the law."

Since our investigation began in 2015, Matthew has discovered dozens of siblings. He found 3 more in just the last few weeks. Through DNA testing, the number of children who have confirmed Cline is their father is believed to be 46.

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