As the Baltimore Ravens prepare to play the San Francisco 49ers in this Sunday’s Super Bowl, one player knows there is more to play for in life than just a football game.
Raven’s veteran center Matt Birk is a longtime pro-life advocate who has a thoughtful position against abortion and a family story to share.
Birk grew up in St. Paul Minnesota, where Planned Parenthood did abortions for decades and then the godfather of one of Birk’s five children opened a pregnancy center across the street from the abortion facility. Adrianna, Birk’s wife, volunteered at the center, and eventually the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic closed.
Birk was a featured speaker at the Maryland March for Life previously and he said his Catholic faith and being a father are two of the big reasons he is pro-life and he shared how he was overwhelmed to hold his first child.
“It was unbelievable the love that I felt for her,” he said in a prior interview, “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 said participating in the March for Life is “one of the coolest things I’ve done.”
“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,” said Birk. “Let’s not do that.”
“We all need saving,” he said, “and there’s one thing that can save us all, and that’s prayer,” he added.
“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.”
Birk shared more about his pro-life background in a new interview with the National Catholic Register.
You’ve been active in the pro-life movement. What would you say to someone discouraged about the more than 50 million boys and girls killed in abortions during 40 years under Roe v. Wade?
The big picture is really ugly, but instead of letting that dominate your thinking, I would say to keep the faith and concentrate on the one or two things you can do. You may not be able to save thousands of lives on your own, but the one life you can save today does mean a lot.
Whether it’s teaching our own children to be pro-life, contacting our elected representatives or working at crisis-pregnancy centers, we can all do something. These examples are in addition to prayer, which everyone can do and which everyone should do. Prayer is the basis of any good action. Each little effort helps to bring about a culture of life, a culture in which children are appreciated rather than disposed of.
I spoke at a pro-life rally in Maryland a couple years ago, and it was a life-changing experience. I heard other speakers, including women who deeply regretted their own abortions. Their work, carried out through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, was very persuasive. It wasn’t just a theoretical discussion; it was real women who had experienced the trauma of losing a child through abortion. They wanted to prevent other women from going through that same thing.
If people were told the truth about abortion, no one would ever seek out the procedure. We hear about “choice” and “reproductive rights,” but no one is ever told by an abortionist, “I will kill your baby by ripping off its arms and legs.” The women from Silent No More let people know the facts so that better decisions will be made. It’s very admirable work.
You’re the father of six. With each new child, do you find you appreciate the gift of life more?
No question about it. When I held my first child for the first time, I had such a love and concern for her that I just can’t put into words. Parents know what I’m talking about. You just can’t express how awesome it is to be entrusted with a tiny child who has been created in the image and likeness of God. It really changes your perspective on life. It makes you think about what really matters.
With each new child, your ability to love grows. It’s not a matter of dividing your love among more children, so that each one gets less of it, but you actually have more to give with each new delivery. Children help you to stop thinking of yourself and expand your horizons. This is a joyful challenge. It’s more difficult than football or any other job, but also more rewarding.
I also enjoy helping at-risk children through my HIKE Foundation. “HIKE” stands for “Hope, Inspiration, Knowledge and Education.” The foundation’s purpose is to provide educational opportunities for children who wouldn’t otherwise have them. Our two signature programs encourage children to read, especially at home. We want them to know that reading is not just a task for school, but something that can expand their outlook on life and lead to great opportunities for them.