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Eric Hargan

Deputy Secretary, HHS

Eric D. Hargan is a lawyer and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under President Trump. From 2017 to 2018, he also served as Acting Secretary of HHS. He previously worked at HHS under the George W. Bush administration.


Eric Hargan sits in one of the most powerful seats at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and served as Acting Secretary of the agency prior to Secretary Azar taking the helm in January 2018. During his tenure at HHS, Hargan has met with numerous anti-abortion, anti-birth control extremist groups. From his positions within the Office of the Secretary, his influence has reached across agency programs, including the unaccompanied minors program — which under his purview intervened in the reproductive rights of teenage girls in government custody.


Deputy Secretary of HHS, 2017 – 2018

Trump’s HHS Transition Team, 2016 – 2017

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s Health Care Transition Team, 2014 – 2015

Greenberg Traurig (law firm), Health and FDA Business Development Practice, 2010 – 2016

Adjunct Professor of Law, Loyola University School of Law, 2012 – Present

McDermott Will & Emery (law firm), Health Law Department, 2008 ­– 2010

Principal Associate Deputy Secretary and Acting Deputy Secretary, HHS, 2005 – 2007

Deputy General Counsel, HHS, 2003 – 2005


Austin Ruse:

In his capacity as deputy secretary, Hargan met with C-FAM President Austin Ruse, who has a history of making bigoted remarks. Ruse has written that there is “no evidence that transgenderism is a real thing,” and that children who are “raised by same-sex couples [are] twice as likely to be depressed, fat adults.” Ruse’s organization, C-Fam, is an anti-LGBTQ, Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group.


Deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan Has Been Intimately Involved With HHS’ Unaccompanied Minors Program, Including The Agency’s Interference With The Reproductive Rights Of Young People In Its Care

According To Calendars Obtained By American Oversight, Hargan Ran Several Meetings About HHS’ Unaccompanied Children Program In April 2018. “As deputy secretary, Hargan held several meetings in April 2018 about HHS' unaccompanied children program and a memorandum of understanding that HHS had negotiated to share information with the Department of Homeland Security. The program would become a political flashpoint one month later, after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in May 2018 the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy of family separations.” [Politico PULSE, 2/19/19]

The ACLU Sued HHS For Blocking Migrant Teen’s Abortion In Garza v. Hargan. “The ACLU has taken the Trump administration to court over its new policy of preventing young immigrant women from having abortions they want. The ACLU represents a 17-year-old woman who came to the United States without her parents and who is currently residing in a government-funded shelter in Texas. The Trump administration will not allow her to leave the shelter in order to get an abortion.” [, 8/8/18]

Deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan Met With Multiple Extreme Anti-Abortion, Anti-LGBTQ Individuals And Groups

Deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan Met With C-FAM President Austin Ruse, Who Has A History Of Making Bigoted Remarks

February 2018: In His Official Capacity As Deputy HHS Secretary Eric Hargan Met With C-FAM President Austin Ruse.

Ruse And C-Fam Have Frequently Made Extremist Anti-LBGTQ Remarks And Touted The Trump Administration’s Cruel Family Separation Policy

2017: C-FAM Sent Out A Fundraising Email Of A Swastika Superimposed Over A Rainbow Flag, Stating “We Will Always Call Homosexual Behavior Sinful, Offensive, And Deeply Harmful…” “Anti-LGBTQ hate group C-Fam, which has special consultative status at the United Nations, sent a December 8 fundraising email that featured a custom meme of a rainbow flag with a swastika in it. The meme read, ‘Sexual Fascists Want to Take Away Your Rights. We are Beating Them at the UN. Help us.’  C-Fam’s fundraising email that included the meme repeatedly used variants of the term ‘homosexual fascists,’ comparing LGBTQ people to Nazis. The email did not shy away from other anti-queer rhetoric, including saying, ‘We will always call homosexual behavior sinful, offensive, and deeply harmful to the individual who practices it and to society at large.’” [Media Matters, 12/8/17]

Ruse Derided Former First Lady Laura Bush’s Op-Ed Calling For An End To Family Separation. “Laura Bush says she is heartbroken about the current policy of separating children from their illegal alien parents. Here is Mrs. Bush telling Larry King she is fine with separating unborn children from their mothers in abortion.” [Austin Ruse Twitter, 6/18/18

Ruse Has Written Dozens Of Anti-LGBTQ And Anti-Abortion Articles For Breitbart

Ruse Once Wrote That “There Is No Scientific Evidence That Transgenderism Is A Real Thing.” “President Trump did the right thing in overturning the Obama policy of allowing the gender confused in uniform to defend our country. First and foremost, there is no scientific evidence that transgenderism is a real thing, except insofar as someone feels or thinks they are the wrong sex. There are no reputable studies that show any physical reality that leads someone to believe they are the wrong sex. There is no transgender gene, no part of the brain that is different in such a person. Certainly, there are scientific claims, but claims do not equal truth.” [Austin Ruse, Breitbart, 8/4/17]

Ruse: “Kids Raised by Same-Sex Couples Twice As Likely To Be Depressed, Fat Adults.” [Austin Ruse, Breitbart, 7/7/16]

Ruse: “Obama Administration Imposes Transgenderism Nationwide.” [Austin Ruse, Breitbart, 5/13/16]

During His Tenure at HHS, Hargan Met With At Least Two Groups That Oppose Birth Control

Hargan Met With The Most Prominent Anti-Abortion Group That Sued The Obama Administration Over Its ACA Birth Control Requirement

Hargan Met With Members Of The Little Sisters Of The Poor.

[American Oversight, Accessed 3/19/19]

The Little Sisters Of The Poor Pursued A Lawsuit Against The Birth Control Mandate. “When the Little Sisters of the Poor filed a complaint against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate in 2013, they joined a host of other religious charities and colleges that claimed the law placed a burden on their free exercise of their religion… The Sisters and other religious non-profit groups have claimed protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which prohibits the federal government from placing a “substantial burden” on a person or group’s exercise of religion.” [The Atlantic, 7/14/15]

Hargan Also Met With A Group That Promotes The Claim That Some Birth Control Methods Cause Abortion

Hargan Met With Members Of Co-Founders Of The Contend Project.

[American Oversight, Accessed 3/19/19]

The Contend Project Opposes Some Common Birth Control Methods, Claiming It Causes “A New Human Being” To “Die.” “Birth control is any drug, device or practice that controls or prevents the birth of human beings, who may or may not already exist. Birth control that works before fertilization (when a new human being begins to exist and pregnancy begins ) is contraception. Birth control that works after fertilization is an abortifacient (a method that induces abortion – destroys the new human being and ends a pregnancy).” [, Accessed 3/19/19]

Hargan Attended March For Life, Which Supports And Gives A Platform To Extremist Views

Eric Hargan Attended The March For Life In 2019. “‘HHS looks forward to issuing the final rule promptly,’ spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley wrote me, referring to the proposed Title X changes, although she didn’t confirm whether they’ll be released today.  Oakley said HHS Secretary Alex Azar will be speaking this morning at a pre-march conference hosted by the Family Research Council and confirmed that Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan will be attending the march.” [Washington Post, 1/18/19]

March For Life Organizers Cited Research From A Fringe Anti-LGBT Hate-Group To Justify Its Anti-Abortion Views

March For Life Organizers Cited Research By A Southern Poverty Law Center Recognized Hate Group To Claim That Scientific Evidence Supports An Anti-Abortion Worldview. “Anti-choice activists convened in Washington, D.C., today at the annual March for Life protest that condemns access to abortion services…The Washington Post reports that the organizers used two ‘scientific papers’ to bolster their claim that zygotes are living beings; one was written by an anti-abortion group, and the other came from the American College of Pediatricians, a socially conservative advocacy group that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as ‘a fringe anti-LGBT hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians.’” [The Cut, 1/18/19]

March For Life 2019 Gave A Platform To Anti-Abortion, Anti-Muslim Extremists

March For Life 2019 Hosted A Conference Headlined By David Daleiden. [March For Life, Accessed 3/19/19]

  • Daleiden Released A Series Of Deceptively Altered Videos To Smear Planned Parenthood. “The videos, recorded by two activists posing as representatives of a biotechnology firm procuring tissue for researchers and universities, continue to be released online about once a week. One of the activists, David Daleiden of California, told The New York Times last month that his ‘thousands of hours of videotape’ was enough to release videos into the fall…But, it said, ‘the manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries” unless C.M.P. provides investigators with its original material, and that material is independently authenticated as unaltered.’” [New York Times, 8/27/15]
  • Daleiden Was Indicted On Felony Charges For The Planned Parenthood Smear. “A grand jury in Texas… indicted Daleiden and Merritt on felony charges of using fake drivers licenses to gain access to a Planned Parenthood meeting. They also indicted Daleiden on misdemeanor charges of trying to buy human tissue — the kind of misconduct he was trying to pin on Planned Parenthood. Those charges were dismissed: the misdemeanor on technical grounds, and the felonies after lawyers argued the grand jury didn't have the authority to bring charges so different from their original mandate. [NPR, 3/29/17]

March For Life 2019 Was Headlined By Ben Shapiro. [March For Life, Accessed 3/19/19]

  • Shapiro Claimed That All Muslims Are Radical Extremists. “Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro jumped in to say the nature of Islam is irrelevant. More important, according to Shapiro, is what its followers believe, ‘because that’s what they act upon.’ Through this lens, Shapiro painted a disturbing picture of the religious wellspring for people who fly planes into towers and behead their prisoners. [PunditFact, 11/5/14]
  • Shapiro: “Arabs Like To Bomb Crap And Live In Open Sewage.” [Twitter, 9/27/10]