Former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Matt Birk declined a White House visit with the rest of his team for the annual congratulatory invitation extended to the Super Bowl winners because of President Barack Obama’s support of Planned Parenthood.
“I would say this,” 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.'”
Birk, an open and public Catholic, said that he was offended by the comments made by the president. Birk won the Super Bowl with the Ravens before retiring after 15 seasons in the league.
“Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year,” Birk stated. “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.”
Birk, who also took a stance against recent gay rights movements in the nation this past year, continued, “I’m very confused by [the President’s] statement. For God to bless a place where they’re ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend.”
According to LifeNews, Birk grew up in St. Paul where Planned Parenthood has performed abortions for decades. A godfather of one of Birk’s five children opened a pregnancy center across the street from the abortion facility, and Adrianna, Birk’s wife, volunteered at the center. Eventually, the Planned Parenthood clinic closed.
As a featured speaker at the Maryland March for Life, Birk shared the emotional experience of holding his first child, and said that his Catholic faith and fatherhood are two of the main reasons he is pro-life.
“It was unbelievable the love that I felt for her,” he said about the birth of his daughter. “And any parent knows exactly what I’m talking about. At that point, you know it’s not a choice. Life is a gift that’s given to us. We are supposed to accept it. It’s not our choice whether we decide a baby lives or not.”
Birk added, “It seems like our society and media want to push pro-lifers to the side and hope that we would shut our mouths and go away quietly. Let’s not do that.”
“I don’t think I’m a superstar by any means,” Birk said. “But I’m glad [for] the platform that football allows me. I’m glad to use it to support causes that I passionately believe in and this is one of them. For me, it comes down to what’s right and what’s wrong- what’s God’s will and what’s not.”