Today, Soto is a third-year medical student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. She chose to study at UTRGV — located in South Texas along the border with Mexico — because of the opportunity to work with a Spanish-speaking immigrant population.
“I want to be that Brown doctor that a Brown little girl who is interpreting for their parents should have had,” she said.
Her goal is to establish a practice that will serve immigrant families like her own, with a specialty in either family medicine or obstetrics and gynecology. But as Soto prepares to apply for her residency after medical school, she’s giving priority to programs outside her home state.
That’s because, despite her desire to stay close to home, she’s concerned she won’t have access to the medical training she needs if she stays in Texas.
“I won’t get the abortion care training I need if I stay, and I’m not willing to sacrifice that,” Soto said.
In states where abortion is now illegal, medical students like Soto are reconsidering their choices, abandoning their original plans in favor of pursuing training in states where abortion is legal.
“It’s a difficult position to be put in,” said Jessica Flores, a second-year medical student at UTRGV, who comes from the small city of Portland in South Texas and has long dreamed of serving her community as a physician. Now that Texas has made performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to life in prison, she is rethinking her plans.
“Do I pursue my education in a state where I want to be ideally, but it’s going to potentially undercut me and not make me as prepared as a physician for my patients? Or do I leave?” Flores said.
1 in 3 American women have already lost abortion access. More restrictive laws are coming.
In a post-Roe