Wednesday, December 2, 2020 9:21 pm
By Nehru Odeh
His was a life of paradox, celebrated while alive but rubbished posthumously. A Las Vegas legend, he practiced medicine for more than 60 years in Nevada, United States and was named Doctor of the Year for helping thousands of women get pregnant. He died in 2008 after “fathering” many babies deceitfully at 94.
However, in 2018 – 10 years after his death – it was discovered, accidentally though, that this medical doctor who had helped thousands of women get pregnant through artificial insemination achieved that feat by fraudulently and secretly inseminating those women with his own sperm, rather than their husbands, unbeknownst to their families, while being treated at a women’s hospital in Nevada.
This is the rollercoaster story of Quincy Fortier, the obstetrician who not only used his own sperm to conceive babies for his patient but also did it so with so much dexterity that, like Abraham in the Holy Scriptures, he became the father of many nations, generations of children who never knew they were his offspring until they discovered it surprisingly through DNA testing.
This story of the once-acclaimed fertility doctor and his newly discovered offspring is retold in “Baby God,” a documentary that will be premiered on Wednesday night on HBO. However, the intriguing thing about Fortier’s story is that he was never charged with any crimes, did not admit to any wrongdoing and never lost his license while delivering thousands of babies. People got to know about his fraudulent acts 10 ten years after his death.
The fertility fraud scheme, unraveled in the documentary left a swath of families – 26 children, spanning 40 years of the doctor’s treatments. But why he choose to inseminate those women with his own sperm rather than their husbands’ is something only he can answer.
“At first it was like ‘let’s get all the facts, we’re going to figure it out, what are his motivations, it will be super clear,’” said Hannah Olson, the film’s director
Though he is no longer alive to do so, the documentary is set to raise questions surrounding the ethics of artificial insemination. It also raise questions of identity: Who are you, when half your DNA is not what you thought?
Baby God tells the story of Wendi Babst, who after a nearly 13-year career as a detective with the Clackamas County, Ore., Sheriff’s Office, thought a genealogy kit was the perfect Black Friday gift for herself following her retirement. As she scrolled through her results in March 2018, she was hoping to glean a comprehensive picture of her genealogy but discovered to her chagrin that she had matched with a large group of first cousins or half siblings she never knew existed.
Little did Babst know that Fortier had allegedly used his own sperm to conceive her when her mother, Cathy Holm, then 22 and newly married but struggling to start a family had consulted him at the first women’s hospital in Las Vegas and he had promised to inseminate her with a sample of her husband’s sperm. Baby God initially follows Babst’s personal investigation, as she retraces her mother’s steps and requests records on Fortier.
“I knew something was up,” Babst, 54, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “That was really hard for me.”