Pat Robertson: Divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's an optionEvangelist Pat Robertson said that despite marriage's vow of "til death do us part," divorce can be an option for couples torn over Alzheimer's disease, which he called "a kind of death."
By: Houston Chronicle / MCT,
Evangelist Pat Robertson said that despite marriage's vow of "til death do us part," divorce can be an option for couples torn over Alzheimer's disease, which he called "a kind of death."
"That is a terribly hard thing," the conservative Christian told a "700 Club" viewer on the show whose friend was distancing himself from an ailing wife this week. "I hate Alzheimer's. It is one of the most awful things because here is the loved one - this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly that person is gone. They're gone. They are gone.
"So, what he says basically is correct. But I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something he should divorce her and start all over again. But to make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her."
Robertson said he would not "guilt trip" someone who started dating someone else when their spouse became so far gone that they no longer were able to have a sense of companionship together. He did defend his position saying couples who are struggling with this may want to consult an ethicist.
An Alzheimer's Association spokeswoman told The Associated Press that divorce is uncommon among couples with one spouse with the disease, though the condition can place significant stress on marriages, especially as individuals lose mental faculties.
"The caregiving can be really stressful on a couple of levels," Beth Kallmyer said. "There's the physical level. There's also the emotional level of feeling like you're losing that person you love."
Other Christians and even Robertson himself have previously advocated married couples stay together for better or worse, even in circumstances of extreme medical conditions, the Religion News Services mentions.
As Vox Nova's Mark Gordon points out, Robertson was in the vanguard of those condemning Michael Schiavo for abandoning his wife Terri Schiavo and seeking to remove her feeding tube because she was brain dead -- moreso than many Alzheimer's patients.
Distributed by MCT Information Services