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Paris Calling

Adieu Roe, Watching From Paris As My Rights Are Stolen Away

A young American takes in the most personal and political moments of her life far from home. What will it feel like when she lands back in Idaho?

Adieu Roe, Watching From Paris As My Rights Are Stolen Away

Watching the U.S. news from the French capital city

McKenna Johnson


PARIS — When Roe v. Wade fell, I was sitting in the lobby of my long-stay hotel nestled among the skyscrapers of the La Defense business district just outside the city limits of Paris. I had spent the day working my summer internship remotely, while dealing with a leaky ceiling and a hotel concierge who didn’t understand my broken French.

My first reaction to hearing the news was physical. I got chills; my heart sank; I felt sick; Then I texted my mom, my grandma, my childhood best friend if they had seen the news. Sitting with another intern from my program, a student from Texas, all we could do was stare at each other. I can’t speak for her, but I simply couldn’t find words.

I am angry. I am sad. I am scared. And I am in France, watching my U.S. constitutional rights deteriorate from abroad. It’s surreal.

If my current travel plan stays the same, when I return home to the U.S., I will land in my mother’s home state of Idaho in late July. Idaho has a trigger ban on abortions with exceptions for rape and incest that is expected to go into effect just days after I arrive.

Essentially, I will be returning to the U.S. with fewer rights to my own bodily autonomy than I had when I left two months earlier.

Abortion rights are on solid ground in France

Spending my summer in Paris as a tourist-intern hybrid has been an exhausting dream, but my dream has suddenly become memorable for an entirely different reason.

Last weekend, I watched through the lens of Instagram posts as many of my friends mobilized with protests against our most basic rights being taken away. I happened to be scrolling through the photos and videos, the anger and tears, from a gorgeous beach getaway on the coast of Normandy. I went boating; I collected seashells; I snapped pictures as the most picturesque rainbow spread across the sky; I watched the sunset over the water. I somehow found a moment of peace that I can only imagine is pretty hard to find right now back home.

The jokes I’ve been making about staying in France have taken on a whole new meaning.

I now have a month to process what living in a post-Roe world means before I enter it. One more month of living in a country — however temporary — where abortion is still legally protected, everywhere, without a patchwork of state laws to navigate.

France legalized abortion in 1975, two years after the U.S. did, and will have it for quite a while longer. Since Roe was overturned, the French government has already begun to mobilize to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution. There has been talk about trying to somehow codify abortion rights in the U.S., but at the moment I have little faith our government will see it through. The Supreme Court decision is with us for years to come. The jokes I’ve been making about staying in France have taken on a whole new meaning.

At a protest against the overturn of Roe v Wade in Paris

Oceane Chipon

Going back, and backwards

The weight of what is happening in America right now is daunting. As I watch my friends take to the streets in the States while I ride the metro to work, I can’t help but feel the smallest twinge of guilt, irrational though it might be, that I am not at home.

I will relish my last moments of living as a guest in a country that respects its women’s right to choose. I will also be sure to soak up the singular beauty of this city and eat as many crêpes as I can.

Then I will head to Charles de Gaulle airport to board a plane that will take me home, 3,000 miles across the Atlantic — and 50 years back in time.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Americans Don't Understand Biden — And Biden Doesn't Trust Netanyahu

Challenged back home, U.S. President Joe Biden has just published an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he outlines a future for the Palestinian territories that's different from the one envisaged by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and threatens violent settlers in the West Bank with sanctions. But where are the teeth?

Photo of ​U.S. President Joe Biden walking toward the left of the image as he leaves the White House on Nov. 14

U.S. President Joe Biden leaving the White House on Nov. 14

Pierre Haski


PARISJoe Biden has a problem, and then some.

The first is that a large proportion of Americans don't understand his policy of support for Israel and his refusal to call for a ceasefire. This is particularly true among young people, with 70% of 18-34 year-olds saying they disagree with the way he has been handling the conflict.

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The second problem is that the president of the United States does not trust Benjamin Netanyahu, the man leading Israel at such a crucial time. He already didn't trust him before October 7, and he is wary of his ideas for the post-war period in the Palestinian territories.

Thus unable to satisfy his opponents on the ceasefire question (he wants to give the Israeli army a chance to destroy Hamas's infrastructure in Gaza), Joe Biden has published an op-ed in the Washington Post to show his disgruntled constituents that he won't let Netanyahu dictate the agenda, and perhaps to gain time.

For the first time, the American president threatens to impose sanctions against violent settlers in the occupied West Bank. This is a new development, after years of ceremonial condemnation, to no avail, of Israel's expanding colonization efforts, often through violence.

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