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Eva Longoria warns abortion bans are danger to women

Fiachra GIBBONS
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US actress Eva Longoria warned that other US states could restrict the rights of women to abortion

US actress Eva Longoria warned that other US states could restrict the rights of women to abortion (AFP Photo/CHRISTOPHE SIMON)

Cannes (France) (AFP) - Actress Eva Longoria said restrictive abortion laws passed in Alabama and Missouri are a threat to women, with stars set to protest against the bans on the Cannes red carpet Saturday.

"What's happening in Alabama is so important in the world," the "Desperate Housewives" star said, referring to the US state which has banned terminations even in the case of rape or incest.

"It's going to affect everybody if we don't pay attention," she said.

Longoria warned of a "domino effect" with a dozen other Republican-controlled US states seeking to restrict the rights of women to abortion.

The Latina actress produced the Netflix documentary "Reversing Roe" last year which showed how pro-life groups are mounting a major push to overturn the landmark US Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion in 1973.

Her comments come as a group of female stars led by Charlotte Gainsbourg, Spanish actress Rossi de Palma and French director Claire Denis are set to stage a protest for abortion rights on the Cannes red carpet.

The gathering was originally meant to support the Argentinian documentary, "Let It Be Law", which is premiering Saturday in the festival's official selection.

It tells the story of the struggle for women's rights in the huge, largely Catholic Latin American country, which has become bitterly divided over abortion.

- Red carpet protest -

Months of protests to decriminalise abortion in Pope Francis' homeland culminated in a make-or-break Senate vote in February.

But the eighth attempt to pass a freedom-to-choose law failed at the final hurdle when it was voted down by 38 votes to 31 in the Senate.

The decision led to thousands demonstrating on the streets of the capital Buenos Aires.

"That night (of the vote) I nearly died from the cold, from the rain, I almost broke my camera," the documentary's director Juan Solanas told AFP.

"I felt anger and indignation," said the director, son of the celebrated filmmaker Fernando "Pino" Solanas, a winner at Cannes for his 1988 film "Sur".

"I grew up in an atheist family (and) I respect people's beliefs, but it is medieval and violent to impose them on people who don't think the same," he added.

He and pro-choice Argentinian activists plan to recreate a "green wave" of women in green handkerchiefs, the symbol of Argentina's pro-abortion movement on the red carpet.

Solanas said restrictions, like those passed in Alabama and Missouri, will lead to women's deaths.

"In Argentina, one woman dies every week following an illegal abortion -- more than one a day in Latin America, where 300 million women live without the right to end their pregnancies."

Longoria, one of the founders of the Time's Up movement, which is pushing for gender equality and women's rights, told a Kering Women in Motion talk at Cannes Friday that it is likely to get involved in the 2020 US presidential election.

"We're trying to figure out what is Time's Up's role in these elections, and how can we have an impact," she added.

Despite the momentum that the movement picked up in Hollywood after #MeToo, she said in the workplace generally "the statistics are going the wrong way. We're not improving."