I was contacted by a few news agencies on Friday after the announcement of the Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court which overturned Roe v Wade. I wanted to have time to review the decision and let it sink in before responding.

The oath that I took as prosecuting attorney was to support the Constitution of the United States and the Michigan Constitutions. As I understand these constitutions, it is for the legislature to pass laws, for the judiciary to interpret laws, and it is for the prosecuting attorneys to enforce those laws that are adjudged to be constitutional.

It is not my place to substitute my judgment for that of the legislature, or of the judiciary.

I did not agree with counties that proclaimed that they would not enforce lawful COVID restrictions due to political disagreement. Similarly, at this time I will not issue a blanket statement that I will not enforce laws that have been passed by the legislature. I do not believe that it is my place to override the decisions of duly elected members of the legislature.

Every prosecutor has the right, and I believe, the duty, to take into account the specific circumstances of each case when deciding when to charge a crime or in deciding how to proceed in a case after a crime is charged. For example, we do not treat the teenager who assaults their parent because of an untreated mental health issue the same as we treat the spouse who batters their spouse, even though both crimes constitute domestic violence.

I believe, however, that this exercise of discretion is different than announcing that a certain law will not be enforced in a county.

It should be noted that in the case of Planned Parenthood of Michigan v Atty Gen of the State of Michigan, the Court of Claims has issued a preliminary injunction preventing prosecutors across the state from enforcing MCL 750.14, the state law that bans abortion.

Thus, we all await further instruction from the courts on how to proceed. It is certainly possible, if not likely, that the Michigan Supreme Court will weigh in and find that there is a right to privacy, which includes the right to an abortion, implicit in the Michigan Constitution.

About Allen Telgenhof

Allen Telgenhof is the Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney; he has been an attorney since 1989 and a high school baseball coach since 2005. Graduated from Clio High School, Michigan State University and Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Proud father of Ty, Ally, Will and Lou and husband to Erin.
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