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Priests for Life's Father Frank Pavone speaks at the Rally for Religious Freedom held in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on May 8, 2014.American Life League

NEW YORK, NY, June 15, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, believes that his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court “could in fact overturn this [HHS] mandate.”

After losing on appeal last month, a District of Columbua Court of Appeals has temporarily halted enforcement of the mandate against Priests for Life, pending their final, showdown appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The same District of Columbia Appeals Court that ruled that Priests for Life must obey the HHS mandate, has now granted a “stay” until the Supreme Court appeal is heard.

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Fr. Frank Pavone declared, “We have a lot of confidence that this process we are in could in fact overturn this mandate. The 'stay' is obviously one important step to that.”

Fr. Pavone explained that the appeals court would not have granted the stay if Priests for Life, and, ostensibly, other religious organizations and Christian-owned businesses, did not have merit, and a chance to win their appeal.

“The court is saying, 'We want to protect this organization from irreparable harm. There is something here that we should consider, and they may well win,” Fr. Pavone told LifeSiteNews.

“If none of these things were true, if there is no potential damage, no merit, then there would be no reason to grant the stay. But they did,” Fr. Pavone explained.

In the short term, Priests for Life does not have to obey the HHS mandate; in the long, term, the legal matter is up to the Supreme Court.

The Obama administration's Health and Human Services mandate for ObamaCare is that abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception must be covered by company-provided insurance at no co-pay, regardless or whether the company's owners have religious objections to such coverage.

Any organization or business that does not comply, will be slapped with fines so high that most would collapse.

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“Without the stay granted today, we would have been in the position of being fined for failing to comply with the mandate,” Fr. Pavone said.

Fr. Frank Pavone issued a defiant statement on behalf of Priests for Life, saying, “No matter what happens, we will not obey the mandate, nor will we pay fines to the government.”

Now, Fr. Pavone says he has cause to be optimistic.

“Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, we do not have to disobey the government,” Fr. Pavone told LifeSiteNews. He also noted that so far, the system is working. “It shows there is a level of reasonableness still in the system.”

In November 2014, three judges from the 11-judge U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the HHS mandate did not substantially burden Priests for Life’s exercise of religion, and the religious organization had to obey it.

Priests for Life then requested that all the members of Court of Appeals hear the case, but that request was denied in a decision on May 20.

Now the same court has allowed a “stay” in enforcement of the HHS mandate, until Priests for Life's appeal to the Supreme Court is heard and decided.