After a nearly 13-year career as a detective with the Clackamas County, Ore., Sheriff’s Office, Wendi Babst 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 discovered she had matched with a large group of first cousins.
There was just one problem: Babst didn’t have any cousins, aunts or uncles. Her suspicions grew deeper when she also found matches for numerous half-siblings. Babst had been conceived after her mother, Cathy Holm, was artificially inseminated at a Las Vegas fertility clinic — supposedly with her husband’s sperm.
“I knew something was up,” Babst, 54, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “That was really hard for me.”
One name kept popping up from her mother’s past: Quincy Fortier, the widely respected obstetrician who had helped her mother become pregnant.
In fact, without Holm’s knowledge or consent, Fortier allegedly used his own sperm to conceive Babst, according to a new documentary premiering this week. And there were dozens of others just like her.
Babst is one of at least 26 people who have accused Fortier of being their biological father, many with mothers who say the fertility doctor secretly inseminated them with his sperm while being treated at a women’s hospital in Las Vegas. The story of the once-acclaimed fertility doctor and his newly discovered offspring is retold in “Baby God,” premiering Wednesday night on HBO.
It’s a tale that rocked Sin City and raised serious questions surrounding the ethics of artificial insemination. Fortier, who died in 2006 at 94, was never charged with any crimes, did not admit to any wrongdoing and never lost his license while delivering thousands of babies. Named as the Doctor of the Year by the state medical association, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, Fortier was later sued by at least two patients for fraudulently using his own sperm to artificially inseminate them. Both cases were settled out of court and those accusers have reportedly been prohibited from speaking about their cases after signing confidential agreements.
It was only after his death that the doctor acknowledged in his will that he was the biological father to the four children of the two patients who had sued him, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And in court documents filed in 2007 in connection to his estate, the newspaper reported, Fortier added a footnote that suggested more biological children could come forward.
The film about his case came about thanks to Hannah Olson, who saw firsthand how commercial DNA tests had unraveled the world of genealogy while working as a producer on “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.,” a show that had celebrities discovering surprises in their ancestral histories.
“It was this phenomena,” said Olson, the film’s director. “I wanted to show how unfinished this act could be and how it