Proportionality, when applied to big questions of social policy and probability, includes not only life but living. Humans were put on this earth not only to exist, but to make something of the time we are given. We know that staying away from church risks our immortal souls. We know that we will all die someday, and that we are likelier to die the older we get. Yet, as a society, we do not adopt and never have adopted the view that fear of death should be the only thing we value. Even the Catechism’s litany on end-of-life medical choices sees limits to “medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome.”

Weighing economic and social factors in reopening decisions is something everyone does anyway, whether or not they are willing to admit it. Why hasn’t the New York City subway shut down completely, given its outsized role as a vector for disease? Mainly because some people need it to get to work to make a living. Guess what? Lots of people need to get to work to make a living, even people who do not take subways. That does not mean we impose no restrictions on anyone; it does mean that everybody’s analysis of the question already includes those kinds of considerations.

Indeed, it is only in our modern age — since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 — that it is even possible to consider living without constant fear of infectious disease. Societies before us took steps, sometimes harsh ones, to fight disease, but they never just stopped living for fear of dying. Pro-life has a real meaning when it comes to the prohibition on deliberate taking of lives, but it has never meant that we cannot also be pro-living when it comes to accepting a certain level of risk, and trusting in the Lord or to chance. The idea that weighing life against living is forbidden to pro-lifers is simply a failure to understand that crucial distinction.