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Matt Birk explains skipping Ravens' White House visit

Matt Birk wasn't the only player from last year's Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens team to skip out on their trip to the White House on Wednesday, but he was the only one who boycotted the trip because of his personal beliefs.

"I wasn't there," Birk told KFAN-FM on Thursday. "I would say this, 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."

As ProFootballTalk points out, Obama sealed his speech not with the words "God bless Planned Parenthood," but, "Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America."

Birk, now retired from the NFL, is a devoted Catholic who has voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage based on his religious beliefs. Planned Parenthood (a leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider) holds positions on birth control and abortion that have drawn criticism from Christian groups nationwide, and Birk's stance on those issues compelled him to avoid the celebration with his teammates.

"I'm very confused by (Obama's) statement," Birk said. "For God to bless a place where they're ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend."

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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