PA Telgenhof Statement of August 1, 2022

On June 27, 2022, I issued a statement regarding the US Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization in response to media inquiries. Today, I again had multiple inquiries following the Michigan Court of Appeals decision in Planned Parenthood of Michigan v Atty Gen of the State of Michigan holding that the injunction issued by the Court of Claims does not apply to county prosecutors.

Nothing in this decision changes the substance of my earlier statement.

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. Thus I will not make such an announcement regarding MCL 750.14, the law banning abortion, or any other law.

The Court of Appeals ruling is not the final word on this issue, obviously. I still anticipate that the issue of whether there exists a right to an abortion under our existing state constitution may be decided by the Michigan Supreme Court.

The issue will also be on the ballot this November when voters will have an opportunity to decide whether to amend the Michigan Constitution to expressly provide for the right to an abortion.

My personal belief is that if people do not like the law banning abortion, they should vote to change it. It is not an option to simply ignore it, or for prosecutors to refuse to enforce it.

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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