700 Club’s Pat Robertson stated this week that divorce is okay when one of the spouses has Alzheimer’s Disease.

Although most marriage vows contain the phrase “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health til death do us part”, during a question and answer session this week, the religious broadcaster told his viewers that divorcing a spouse who has Alzheimer’s Disease was justifiable because Alzheimer’s Disease  is “a kind of death.”

“I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her (or him) and start all over again, but make sure she (he) has custodial care and somebody looking after her (him),” Robertson said.  He did also say that it was a very difficult decision and one that might best be handled by an ethics committee rather than himself, but that he would not lay a guilt trip onto a person who made the decision to divorce under those circumstances.

According to the AARP website “Divorce is uncommon among couples where one partner is suffering from Alzheimer’s, said Beth Kallmyer, director of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association, which provides resources to sufferers and their families.”

Still others have handled it differently.  CBS news correspondent, Barry Peterson, author of the book “Jan’s Story: Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer’s” chose to introduce a new woman to his life without divorcing his spouse, Jan, who no longer recognizes him and resides in a memory facility.  He did so with the blessing of Jan’s family.  Both Mr. Peterson and his new partner visit Jan often.

With medical science, people are living longer and longer and that includes those who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease.  Is it fair to deny the surviving spouse the right to intimacy and soulful connection for what could be a decades long  slow death?  I don’t know.

Here are some of the reactions I received when I posted the link to the article on Twitter:

“Read an overview of segment. Couldn’t watch video. Most disappointing.”

“He obviously hasn’t lived with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease. I have and there is much love to share to the end.”

RT – Pat Robertson Says Alzheimer’s Makes Divorce OK. What do you think? @ShelleyWebbRN “He is offensive on every level.”
“What happened to “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death us do part?” Argues for caregiver support.”
What are YOUR thoughts?  I’d love to know.
photo credit: Kconnors at morguefile.com


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