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Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk boycotts White House visit

June 07, 2013|By Sam Farmer
  • Matt Birk decided to boycott the Ravens' White House visit this year.
Matt Birk decided to boycott the Ravens' White House visit this year. (Nick Wass / Associated Press )

Matt Birk stands by his convictions.

The retired, six-time Pro Bowl center opted not to visit the White House this week with his Baltimore Ravens teammates because he disagrees with President Obama’s stance on abortion.

The Ravens visited the White House on Wednesday, in keeping with the tradition of Super Bowl champions.

Birk, a Harvard graduate and winner of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2012, is a devout Catholic and father of six.

He was particularly angered by what Obama said at the end of a speech at a Planned Parenthood conference in April: “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you.”

In an interview with KFAN-FM, Birk explained his decision to take a pass on the White House invitation.

 “I wasn’t there,” Birk said. “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. I’m very confused by [Obama’s] statement. For God to bless a place where they’re ending 330,000 lives a year? I chose not to attend.”

Birk wasn't the lone Super Bowl winner to skip the visit.

Receiver Anquan Boldin, now with San Francisco, and cornerback Cary Williams, now with Philadelphia, had workouts with their new teams. Safety Bernard Pollard announced last month that he wouldn't attend the event because the Ravens released him after the season.

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