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


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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