Earlier this week, the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens visited President Obama at the White House. The reports I read noted that a few members of the championship squad were unable to attend because they were practicing with a new team. But I saw no mention that any member skipped the event as a protest.
It turns out, however, that center Matt Birk did just that. Birk, who retired after the Super Bowl, explained his decision on a local sports radio station in Minneapolis-St. Paul:
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 [thousand] abortions a year. I am a Catholic. I’m 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 and was very confused by that statement — for God to bless a place where they’re ending 330,000 lives a year, so I just chose not to attend.
Obama’s exact words were: “Thank you, Planned Parenthood; God bless you; God bless America.” So Birk didn’t materially misquote the president.
The Harvard educated Birk is a two-time All-Pro and a six-time Pro Bowl selection.
Whether or not one agrees with Birk’s view of Planned Parenthood and of Obama’s endorsement of that outfit (I do), Birk deserves credit for following his conscience and skipping the White House event.