Woman sues doctor for inseminating mother with his own sperm

Deoxyribonucleic acid strands from a double helix model on display at the Science Museum

Deoxyribonucleic acid strands from a double helix model on display at the Science Museum

It was the same doctor who delivered baby Kelli and looked after her mother for a few more years following the birth.

Mainly, the lawsuit asserts that Mortimer knowingly used his own sperm to impregnate Rowlette's mother. She later found out that the "unknown man" was actually her parent's fertility doctor.

The documents say Dr. Mortimer recommended that the couple undergo a procedure where a donor's sperm would be mixed with Mr. Fowler's genetic material in the medical lab prior to insemination to increase the chances of conception, where 85 percent of the mixture would be Mr. Fowler's genetic material, and 15 percent would be that of a donor's (selected by Ms. Ashby and Mr. Fowler). Eventually they sought professional help from Mortimer, who diagnosed Ashby with a tipped uterus and Fowler with a low sperm count and low sperm motility. The couple specified that they would only do the procedure if the donor was a college student, over 6-feet tall, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Consequently, the couple chose to be artificially inseminated using sperm from both her husband (85 percent) and a donor (15 percent), who was requested to be a university student with fairly specific physical characteristics. "Dr. Mortimer would then inseminate Ms. Ashby with the mixture".

"Dr Mortimer knew Kelli Rowlette was his biological daughter but did not disclose this". When the Ancestry.com DNA test revealed that Rowlette's father was Ashby's fertility doctor, Dr. Gerald E. Mortimer, the family was stunned.

Ashby, Rowlette and Fowler filed the lawsuit Friday against Mortimer; his wife, Linda McKinnon Mortimer; and the medical group where he practiced, Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls, alleging charges including medical negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, fraud, battery, emotional distress and breach of contract.

Court documents claim Mortimer cried when Ashby told him they were moving.

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Ancestry.com said that "DNA testing helps people make new and powerful discoveries about their family history and identity". According to the lawsuit, Rowlette's parents were "devastated" by the results of the Ancestry.com DNA test and struggled with how to tell Rowlette that the results of the DNA were correct. Requests to reach Mortimer and the Idaho clinic in question were not immediately returned.

Mortimer remained Ashby's doctor for several years until the she and her husband moved to Washington state.

Has Mortimer similarly fathered other children? Though the name was foreign to her, horrifyingly to Rowlette's parents, it was a name that they recognized nearly all too well.

The couple maintains in the complaint that they did not know that Dr. Mortimer's genetic material was being used.

"With Ancestry, customers maintain ownership and control over their DNA data", the statement continued.

The procedure was performed three times a month while Ashby was ovulating in June, July and August 1980.

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