Pat Robertson Divorce Comments about Alzheimer’s Disease

Pat Robertson
FILE – In this Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 file picture, Rev. Pat Robertson talks to attendees at a prayer breakfast as part of inaugural ceremonies for Virginia Gov.-elect Bob Mcdonnell at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. Robertson told his “700 Club” viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is justifiable because the disease is “a kind of death.” During the portion of the show where the one-time Republican presidential candidate takes questions from viewers, Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder. (AP Photo/Clem Britt, File)
Pat Robertson
FILE - In this Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 file picture, Rev. Pat Robertson (AP Photo/Clem Britt, File)

When a couple gets married they usually have to repeat these words: “For better or for worse” and “in sickness and in health.”

But what if that sickness is Alzheimer’s disease?

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told viewers of his 700 Club show that it’s okay to leave a spouse stricken with the incurable disease because it’s “a kind of death.”

The former Republican presidential candidate made the controversial remarks while taking questions from viewers. One man asked Robertson what advice he should give to a friend who started seeing another woman after his wife came down with the disease.

“I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her,” Robertson said.

And what about those sacred vows?

“If you respect that vow, you say ’til death do us part,’” he responded after his co-host asked that exact question. “This is a kind of death.”

Responding to Robertson’s comments was Eric J. Hall, founding president and CEO of the Alzeheimer’s Foundation of America. He said the religious broadcaster’s comments are a reason for greater education to the public about the disease.

“There is no doubt that this heartbreaking disease robs people of their memories and other intellectual functions, but to liken Alzheimer’s disease to, as Mr. Robertson said, ‘a kind of death’ fosters an insensitivity that feeds misperceptions about the disease,” Hall said in a statement.

“It fails to take into account that people with Alzheimer’s disease, although impaired, deserve optimal care and dignity,” he said. “Love and compassion are the greatest gifts for every human being until their very last breath.”

He added: “We must speak for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease who can no longer speak for themselves, and ensure that our nation pays attention to the need for programs and services for this misunderstood population.”

With Associated Press