'Baby God': Was Quincy Fortier's actions illegal? Only three states have laws against fertility fraud

Only three states in the United States of America have laws that protect against what is termed as fertility fraud, with only two making it a criminal offense


                            'Baby God': Was Quincy Fortier's actions illegal? Only three states have laws against fertility fraud
(HBO)

In HBO's latest documentary, 'Baby God', the retired police captain, Wendi Babst discovers that her mother's fertility doctor, Quincy Fortier is her biological father after she uses a DNA testing kit from Ancestry.com. From there, Wendi investigates Fortier's use of his own sperm to impregnate the women who visited his hospital. It turns out he did not just impregnate women who had come for fertility treatments but also impregnated at least two others who were not looking to get pregnant -- one of them his 17-year-old stepdaughter, whom he had sexually molested since she was just a toddler.

Quincy Fortier is the subject of HBO's latest documentary, 'Baby God', directed by Hannah Olson. In the documentary, we meet other biological children of Fortier's, including Mike Otis. It is revealed that Otis's mother, Dorothy Otis, did not visit Fortier for fertility issues, and yet found herself pregnant. She laments that she had plans to go back to school, yet reaffirms that she is grateful for her son.

Unfortunately, Fortier's is not a unique case. There have been countless other doctors across the world who have been accused and found guilty of inseminating women without their knowledge or consent with their own sperm. With the advent of easy to do, home DNA testing kits, many people are finding out that the truth of their origins are, in fact, not what they thought it was. 

However, if viewers are wondering whether Fortier was punished for what seems to clearly be a crime, they might be surprised. Only three states in the United States of America have laws that protect against what is termed as fertility fraud. Many of the instances of fraud that have now come to light happened between the 1970s and 1990s, before carefully cataloged, cryopreserved donor sperm was widely available, but some occurred in the early 2000s.

A local fertility doctor in Indianapolis, Donald Cline, had secretly used his own sperm to impregnate patients in the 1970s and the 1980s. As more and more people began using the DNA test kits, more and more of Cline's biological children were found. After Cline was convicted, the state of Indiana became the first in the country to pass a law in the United States in May 2019 that would specifically prohibit fertility fraud and deception.

Texas followed suit with a fertility fraud bill in July. The Texas law, however, considers lying about the source of sperm a felony sexual assault because of the violation of trust in the patient-physician relationship. These laws ban any health provider from implanting human sperm, eggs, or embryos from a donor the patient did not specify or consent to.

A California law passed in the 1990s that uses more general language and does not single out healthcare providers. The California legislature enacted Penal Code § 367g in 1996, following a scandal at the University of California, Irvine fertility clinic where reproductive endocrinologists used patient’s reproductive material without their consent.

Similar lawsuits for clinic owners using their own sperm to fertilize eggs are ongoing in Vermont, Idaho, and Connecticut; however, with no criminal statute in those states, the suits are all civil or malpractice. Other states making progress in the area with pending bills include Colorado with HB20-1014, Nebraska with LB 748, Ohio with HB 486, and Florida with SB 698.

'Baby God' premieres on HBO on Wednesday, December 2, at 9/8c. The documentary will be available for streaming on HBO Max.

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