A High Court judge in England who has been asked to decide whether medics can provide only palliative care to a ''profoundly neurologically disabled'' two-year-old boy has told the youngsters' parents that she is not in the "business of ending life".
Mrs Justice Parker, who is overseeing the dispute at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said she had to decide whether to say that steps need not be taken to keep the child alive.
The judge was on Thursday listening to legal submissions from lawyers involved after analysing evidence over a number of days.
NHS hospital bosses with responsibility for the boy's care have asked Mrs Justice Parker to rule that limiting treatment to palliative care would be lawful and in the best interests of the boy.
Specialists say the toddler suffers from an incurable but unidentified neurological disorder - and that his condition is deteriorating.
Nurses say he has stopped smiling and that he grimaces but no longer giggles when tickled.
Specialists said "further invasive interventions" will be distressing and burdensome for the little boy but will have little or no therapeutic benefit.
The youngsters' parents disagree with the idea of providing only palliative care and implementing an ''end-of-life plan''. They say all treatment options should continue to be available.
"This court is not in the business of ending life," said Mrs Justice Parker. "The question is do I say that steps should not be taken to keep him alive?"
The little boy's mother, who is not English but comes from another European country, has told Mrs Justice Parker that she visits her son every day.
She described him as an ''angel'' and said he still smiles - and added that hospital staff mistook his smiles for grimaces.
''Give this little boy a chance to live,'' she told the judge.
''They do not have any proof that he is dying.''
She added: ''How do the doctors know that? There is no proof or any evidence.''
And she went on: ''I want him to have treatment that he needs.''
She told the judge that her son might one day say ''Thank you''.