When Wendi Babst sees her face in the mirror, she sometimes feels troubled enough by her distinctive features to consider plastic surgery.
The pain started as the result of an on-sale DNA test she decided, on a whim, to take in 2018. That’s when the former cop realized she doesn’t actually look like the caring military man she always thought was her dad — and instead resembles her mother’s unwanted “sperm donor.”
Her biological father is Dr. Quincy Fortier, the late fertility specialist and accused child molester who made headlines for impregnating unwitting patients — including Babst’s mother — with his own seed over the course of four decades.
Airing her disgust for the Nevada physician in “Baby God,” a documentary about the scandal airing Wednesday on HBO, Babst declares: “I want to change my nose [because] there is this monster who is living within me.”
The 54-year-old told The Post she is “contemplating” going under the knife, explaining that her feelings toward Fortier are “complicated.”
“I can’t really hate him because I wouldn’t exist without him,” she said. “But I’ve studied nature versus nurture so it’s scary.”
For better or worse, Babst, who lives in Portland, Ore., is a member of a society of Fortier half-siblings that seems to grow larger every month.
“[Sibling] matches tend to come out after Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Black Friday when they do big promos for genealogy kits,” said Babst.
The current roster totals 24 men and women from across the US, ranging in age from 30something to septuagenarians. Nearly all were shocked to discover the truth about their paternity after investing in biotechnology services such as those offered by 23andme and Ancestry.com.
The mind-blowing information has also unearthed secrets about the sinister machinations of the OB-GYN, once lauded as a miracle worker for his ability to help women conceive. The film also reveals a shocking history in Fortier’s own nuclear family.
“Baby God” director Hannah Olson told The Post that Fortier was an “extreme” example of a “widespread phenomenon” in the fertility industry that likely continued into the 1980s.
“With or without the patients’ knowledge or consent, doctors would use their own sperm to ‘help’ a woman conceive,” she said. “They couldn’t predict the future and the ease with which people are now able to analyze their DNA.”
Some specialists, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, would combine their own semen with samples from a woman’s husband in a practice known as “sperm-mixing.” The idea, apparently: If the end result was a happy, healthy baby, who would even care?
Babst’s mom, Cathy Holm, now 77, was flabbergasted when Wendi revealed Holm’s husband was not her dad. Still, when Wendi was growing up, Holm was struck by her daughter’s lack of resemblance to “her father’s side of the family at all.”
As someone who married young rather than go to college, she said she couldn’t understand where Wendi got her intelligence from. “We were average,” she states in the documentary.
Holm was 22 in 1966, when she saw the then 54-year-old Fortier at his Women’s Hospital in Pioche, Nev. She trusted he had done what she paid him to do: use a syringe to inseminate her with sperm from her husband.
Holm recalls the procedure in the documentary. “[The doctor] was in and out of the exam room two or three times. [I thought] why does he keep going in and out?” she says.
As Olson explained, in those days, only fresh sperm was used for the procedure. It wasn’t until the AIDS crisis in the mid-1980s that samples began to be screened and frozen.
Fortier, who fathered infants into his 70s, practiced his warped technique as early as 1948. That’s when he used his sperm on Dorothy Otis, a newlywed who consulted him about a suspected infection — not in an effort to conceive.
She left his office unknowingly pregnant with her son Mike, now 71 and a retired tech writer from Maricopa, Ariz. Mike was investigating his supposed Native American Indian roots when he received the unsettling results of his Ancestry.com test in 2017.
Otis told The Post he grieves the loss of “part of his identity.” Moreover, he is outraged for his mom, now 94, who admitted she wasn’t ready to bear a child in her early twenties and had to forgo her education.
In a heartbreaking scene in “Baby God,” Dorothy feels the need to tell Mike she didn’t have sex with Fortier, before asking: “Was he trying to see how many people he could [put] on this earth before he died?”
For Babst, the answer is a resounding yes. She calls it a reflection of his superiority complex — and the patriarchy in general.
“It bothers me to think that these doctors thought they were smarter than their patients,” she said. “It was a case of: ‘Don’t look behind the curtain, little lady, while I make a baby for you.’ My mother wanted a family with the man she loved.”
Otis has learned to embrace the notion that Fortier gave him life. “My view of the whole thing changed a little bit when I looked at my grandchild, and the love that my daughter has in her marriage, and I thought: ‘It has to be okay.’”
[Sibling] matches tend to come out after … Black Friday when they do big promos for genealogy kits.
– Wendi Babst
The film takes a darker turn with the introduction of Jonathan Stensland, 55, a builder living in Minnesota. The adopted son of a Lutheran pastor and a nurse, he enjoyed a happy childhood. But at age 17, he decided to track down his birth mother. Her name was Connie Fortier and she was just 18 years his senior.
“She called me just before Valentine’s Day in 1992 and came to visit,” Stensland told The Post. “Even at that early stage, I got the sense there was some kind of dark shadow over who my father was.”
He found out the “donor” was Fortier, Connie’s adopted dad, through a series of letters in which she explained she had never had intercourse ahead of her pregnancy.
“There was some crazy tale about Quincy giving her an examination and getting some swabs mixed up,” recalled Stensland. “He tried to say there was a possibility that it was a virgin birth.”
Overcome by curiosity, Stensland went to meet Fortier in Las Vegas. “He had muscles like mine — like Popeye — and it was very clear we shared the same DNA,” he said. “He was whistling and, if I didn’t know better, I probably would have quite liked the guy.”
Eight years later, Quincy E. Fortier Jr. filed a lawsuit against his father, then 87. He claimed he had been sexually abused by his namesake between the ages of three and 14 and had also watched his dad abuse his siblings and other kids.
In 2002, a jury rejected the son’s claims. The verdict came a year after Fortier settled a lawsuit with a woman named Mary Craddock, who sued him for allegedly covertly inseminating her twice with his sperm, leading to her giving birth to a girl and a boy in the 1970s. Craddock was given a gag order.
Interviewed in “Baby God,” Quincy Jr., now 67, labels his dad “crazy” and “a pervert” and says he would not be surprised if there are “hundreds” of half-siblings.
He also stands by his former claims of abuse. “[My father] molested everyone. The happiest he ever made me was lying in his coffin dead. That’s when I knew I was safe.”
Quincy Jr.’s words are especially painful for Babst, who spent much of her 31-year career in law enforcement protecting vulnerable people from predators. It led her to wonder out loud in “Baby God:” “Do you want to say your father was a monster? And what does that say about you?”
In another scene, the mother of five boys points out: “He has propagated himself through me and my family. It’s a chain reaction that I can’t really stop.”
Fortier died in 2006, 15 years after being named the 1991 “Nevada Doctor of the Year.” His deferential obituary acknowledged his eight children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The list did not include Stensland who, together with the other half-siblings, can only take guesses on the motivation and mindset of the man who fathered him.
“I did sense that there was a little bit of a pleasure in pulling it off,” he says in the film. “These forbidden fruits shouldn’t even exist. But somehow he is the reason we exist.”