SPORTS
06/07/2013 05:08 pm ET Updated Jun 08, 2013

Matt Birk, Former Baltimore Raven, Skips White House Visit Over Obama's Abortion Stance

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Former Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk refused an invitation to the White House this week out of consideration for his pro-life principles.

"I would say that I have great respect for the office of the Presidency," Birk told Minnesota's KFAN-AM on Thursday. "But about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, 'God bless Planned Parenthood.'"

Birk, a Catholic, said his opposition to Planned Parenthood made it impossible for him to meet with the president.

"Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year," the NFL veteran, who announced his retirement in February, told the radio station. "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. … For God to bless a place where they're ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend."

As is customary, the Ravens -- this year's Super Bowl champs -- got a chance to spend time with POTUS at the White House on Wednesday. Other than Birk, a handful of other Ravens, including Cary Williams, were unable to attend the festivities.

This isn't the first time a pro athlete has snubbed an invitation to the White House over political disagreements with Obama. Last year, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said he chose not to attend a ceremony honoring the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup victory because he believes the federal government "has grown out of control."

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