Madeleine Cosman

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Madeleine Pelner Cosman (December 4, 1937 – March 2, 2006) was a scholar, a policy analyst, an advocate, a prolific author, and a faculty member at City College of New York. "As a medical lawyer, educator and health-care policy guru, she testified before Congress, wrote 15 books and buttressed conservative politicians' arguments against immigration"[1]"She was recruited by all these politicians to present ideas with coherence, logic and dramatic flair," her daughter said. "But before the political world took notice, the intellectual world was pretty much aware of her." Lecture appointments took Cosman throughout the United States and to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, and Western Europe. She also contributed to think tanks that reflected her philosophy on medical and legal issues, the Cato Institute and Galen Institute.[1] Cosman died in Escondido, Calif. She was 68. The cause was complications of scleroderma, a chronic disease of the connective tissue, her family said.[2]


Cosman's degrees include[2][3][4]

Cosman was a professor in the Department of English at City College of New York from 1964 until her retirement in 1993. She was a member of the New York Academy of Medicine and a Professor of Medical Law.[4][5]

Renaissance Studies[edit]

In 1968, Cosman became founding director of the City College of New York Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, which granted undergraduate and graduate degrees. From the 1970s she helped organize the Renaissance Fair at The Cloisters. She was also a scholar of medieval medicine.[2] Her book, Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony (1976) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.[1]

According to one obituary, she lectured for years "on cable television at the Metropolitan Museum of New York on medieval daily life. She was deeply passionate about ideas and her gift was to share her ideas with an intelligent audience."[1]


"She never practised law," her daughter said. "She used her knowledge of the law to be more effective as a policy analyst."[1] "Known for an engaging speaking style that illuminated her legal savvy, Cosman was a favorite guest on talk radio."[1] She was a board member of the California Rifle and Pistol Association.[2]

Health-care policy[edit]

For nearly 30 years, Cosman taught medical students medical law, medical business and medical history at City College of City University of New York.[1] and was a strong advocate for personal choice of one's own medical care. Her views spawned an hourlong presentation on C-span titled "Who owns your body" as well as books titled "ABCs of the Clinton Medical World" (published 1993) and "Selling the Medical Practice: The Physicians and Surgeons Guide" (published 1988)[1]

Immigration issues[edit]

Cosman appeared frequently with host Mark Edwards of "Wake Up America" and provided the medical legal data for "Hold Their Feet to the Fire,"[1] a project of Americans for Legal Immigration - ALIPAC.[6] One article she wrote for the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons titled "Illegal Aliens and American Medicine" [7] stated:

"Horrendous diseases that long ago America had conquered are resurging," she wrote last April. "Horrific diseases common in Third World poverty and medical ignorance suddenly are appearing in American emergency rooms and medical offices." [1]

Also, she argued that 80 California hospitals closed between 1994 and 2003 because of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act requirement that those hospitals provide services (including childbirth) to illegal aliens in the emergency room regardless of their ability to pay.


Critics have objected that many of her controversial claims on immigration and medicine are not authoritative due her lack of credentials.[8] A reporter on Lou Dobbs' CNN program[9] had cited as facts Cosman's claims that there were over a period of three years 7000 cases of leprosy in the United States and that many of them were the result of illegal immigrants bringing the disease into the country when the statistics show the number was for a 30-year period and unrelated to immigration. Dobbs has since rejected the claims as unsubstantiated.[10]

Cosman has also been accused[11] of anti-Mexican bias. For example, railing against criminals from the immigrant community, she made the following ominous warning: "Recognize that most of these bastards molest girls under age twelve, some as young as age five, others age three. Although, of course, some specialize in boys, some specialize in nuns, some are exceedingly versatile and rape little girls age eleven and women up to age seventy-nine."[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jack Williams (March 11, 2006). "Madeleine Cosman, 68; medical lawyer, author". Union-Tribune.
  2. ^ a b c d Margalit Fox (March 19, 2006). "Madeleine P. Cosman, 68, Medieval Expert, Dies". New York Times.
  3. ^ Margalit Fox, "Madeleine P. Cosman, 68, Medieval Expert, Dies," New York Times, 19 March 2006, accessed 4 Dec 2007
  4. ^ a b "Madeleine Pelner Cosman". Full Context. December 1997.
  5. ^ "The New York Academy of Medicine Special Collections, Malloch Room Newsletter" (PDF). The New York Academy of Medicine.
  6. ^ Hold Their Feet to the Fire / Amnesty Alamo. Washington D.C. April 21-25, 2007. NO AMNESTY FOR ILLEGALS!
  7. ^ Madeline Cosman, "Illegal Aliens and American Medicine", Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Spring 2005, accessed 4 Dec 2007
  8. ^ e.g., Amy Goodman and Lou Dobbs in DemocracyNow! transcript cited below.
  9. ^ "Lou Dobbs Tonight transcripts". CNN. 2007-05-07. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
  10. ^ Transcript of DemocracyNow! broadcast, 4 Dec 2007, accessed 4 Dec 2007
  11. ^ David Leonhardt, "Truth, Fiction and Lou Dobbs", New York Times, 30 May 2007; Lou Dobbs, "An answer for my critics",, 31 May 2007; Gustavo Arellano, "¡Ask a Mexican!" column in 15 Nov 2007 issue of OC Weekly online; all accessed 9 Dec 2007.
  12. ^ Transcript of DemocracyNow! broadcast, 4 Dec 2007, accessed 8 Dec 2007; see also a Version of the quote on YouTube, accessed 8 Dec 2007.