‘Colored babies’ remark during debate was ’slip of the tongue,’ Oklahoma lawmaker says

An Oklahoma state lawmaker has apologized after referring to “colored babies” during an abortion debate Tuesday.

Rep. Brad Boles, a Republican from Marlow, called the comment a “slip of the tongue” in a statement posted to Facebook Tuesday night.

“I inadvertently used an offensive term during debate for a pro-life bill when suggesting abortion affects people of all races,” the statement said. “I apologized to several colleagues for this accidental slip of the tongue and made a public apology on the House floor.”

He continued, “I hope you know me and my heart well enough to agree I would never intentionally say anything to offend anyone, and that as a Christian I believe God created each of us in His image. While it was truly an accident, I deeply regret the unintentional harm it caused. Please accept my sincere apology.”

Boles used the term while debating in favor of a bill that would outlaw abortions once a fetus had detectable “cardiac activity” — better known as a fetal heartbeat bill, The Oklahoman reported.

“In 2017, 862,000 babies were aborted. Twenty-eight percent of those babies were colored babies; 240,000 Black kids, 215,000 Hispanic kids,” Boles said during the debate, according to the newspaper. “These kids mattered and I’m here to advocate for them as well.”

Alicia Andrews, chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, condemned the comment.

“As a Black woman who is old enough to be his mother, I am shocked that someone is using the term colored in 2021,” she said, according to KFOR, adding, “Colored is not part of your normal lexicon. If it’s not part of your normal lexicon, it doesn’t just come out. So, it is part of who he is.”

Boles took to the House floor Tuesday night to apologize after Andrews and the Oklahoma Democratic Party demanded a public apology.

Tamya Cox-Touré, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, called on Boles to commit to engaging in conversations with experts about racial equity.

“It is disgraceful that in 2021 we still have elected officials like Rep. Boles use racist rhetoric such as ‘colored’ on the floor of the People’s house,” she said in a statement. “Rep. Boles and his colleagues should not only commit to engaging in conversations about race equity work with the experts in our state, but also actively check their colleagues on problematic behavior.”

House Bill 2441, which was being being debated when Boles made the comment, passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives 80-19, KOKH reported.