After my birth in 1955 — in Nyack, New York — my mother asked the doctor for a prescription for a diaphragm, then a form of contraception used by many couples. He blandly informed her that he didn’t typically prescribe contraception to women until they had 5 or 6 children. She calmly informed him that the decision wasn’t his to make. She got her prescription. The fact that my mother — a high-school-educated woman who never worked outside the home after marriage — was so incensed by this doctor’s presumption that she remembered it all her life and told me about her experience when I was engaged to be married helped me understand that doctors are consultants whose advice and recommendations may be colored by their own prejudices, an insight for which I’m grateful.