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While other former players missed the Super Bowl champion Ravens’ visit to the White House because of practice commitments to their new teams or due to a falling out with the organization, Matt Birk’s reason for skipping the event was political in nature.
The retired center is a devoted Catholic and declined the invitation to meet President Barack Obama because of his recent praise of Planned Parenthood. The six-time Pro Bowl center spoke in support of traditional marriage and did not support the legalization of same-sex marriage last fall in the state of Maryland.
“I wasn’t there,” Birk said in an interview with KFAN in Minnesota. “I would say that I have great respect for the office of the Presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, ‘God bless Planned Parenthood.’ Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement, and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that. I couldn’t endorse that in any way.”
Several media outlets have pointed out that Obama’s wording wasn’t exactly the same as Birk’s interpretation.
“Thank you, Planned Parenthood,” Obama said. “God bless you. God bless America.”
Birk told WNST.net in a text message that he will attend the Ravens’ Super Bowl ring ceremony held in Owings Mills Friday night.