Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto


Victoria is a political scientist that got the political nerd bug in middle school student council. Today she hangs her hat at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and engages in political wonkiness on MSNBC, NBCNews.com, and Telemundo among others. more→


Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding the politics, policies and people that shape our fascinating yet frustrating political landscape. Her areas of expertise include immigration, Latinos, women, political psych, & elections.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino

The last Monday in October an injunction blocking parts of Texas’ abortion law went into effect.  But within three days the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling and lifted the injunction. On Monday, abortion-rights groups filed an emergency motion asking the Supreme Court to block Texas from enforcing part of the law, which is regarded as one of the most restrictive in the country.

The provision at issue is the requirement of admitting privileges for physicians providing abortions.  According to the state’s new abortion law physicians must have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius of the clinic where the abortion is performed.

At first sight gaining admitting privileges seems mundane.  But it is a steep logistical hurdle that many abortion providers would not be able to clear.  More importantly, the medical community has not supported these requirements as medically necessary.

The injunction of the admitting privileges requirement was a short-lived win.  The loss came 72 hours later and the effect was felt immediately.  By the evening of when the decision was handed down nine abortion providers, a quarter of the state’s providers, had to cease services.

The three-day injunction did little in the way of preserving the tangible abortion rights of women in the state of Texas.  However, it served to remind us of the core theoretical rights and actors at play.  In his decision, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel stated that the implementation of the admitting privileges provision placed an undue burden on women and as a result was unconstitutional.

His reference to the undue burden women would face goes back to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.  Writing for the majority, Justice Blackmun’s opinion centers on how abortion while fundamentally about a woman’s right to privacy also entails a consideration for the mental and physical costs an unwanted pregnancy represent. (more…)

College is one of the most dangerous places for women.  One in four women is a victim of sexual assault while in college.  Yet the Department of Justice estimates that less than five percent of completed and attempted rapes are reported to law enforcement.

College is supposed to be a place where young women go to flourish, not be put in harm’s way.  But this past week seven University of Connecticut students reminded us of the underbelly of sexual violence within our colleges.

Kylie Angell, a former UConn student spoke at a news conference about her rape by a classmate.  But as sad and shocking as the rape itself was the reaction by the campus police officer she reported the incident to.

“The officer told me, ‘Women need to stop spreading their legs like peanut butter or rape is going to keep happening until the cows come home.’”

Angell, along with seven other current and former female UConn students, filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights under Title IX.  Under the protection of Title IX there cannot be gender-based discrimination in any education program receiving federal funding.

The UConn incident is just the latest in a series of sexual misconduct cases involving universities.  Just down the road from UConn, Yale University has been embroiled in its own set of sexual assault and harassment related issues. (more…)

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

Texas is center stage for abortion politics, starring Wendy Davis as the leading lady and Rick Perry opposite her.

Wendy Davis’ protagonist role in the Texas abortion drama shot her to political fame.  Overnight she became a Democratic sensation – and on Thursday  gubernatorial candidate – as a result of her marathon filibuster to stop restrictive pro-choice legislation.

Governor Perry’s leading role is not a new one –  he’s starred in other abortion political dramas.  Back in 2011 he fast-tracked a sonogram abortion bill by designating it an emergency legislative priority.  This bill, now law, requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal-ultrasound and then wait 24 hours after the procedure to have an abortion.

It’s a movie we’ve seen many times before- entrenched partisan warfare between pro-life Republicans and pro-choice Democrats.

Or is it?

Could the abortion battle lines fall somewhere else, say along gender lines?  That possibility was inadvertently suggested a couple of days ago by none other than Governor Rick Perry’s wife, Anita Perry. (more…)