Baby in Life-Support Debate

As a baby lay in a Texas hospital bed, hooked up to tubes to help him breathe and eat, his mother stays by his side, while others in the hospital are fighting to end his life support.

17-month-old Emilio Gonzalez is terminally ill, suffering from what's believed to be Leigh's Disease, and survives due to medical technology. His mother, Catarina, knows she'll have to let go one day — but not yet. According to Catarina, her son smiles and turns when he hears people's voices. However, the boy cannot breathe on his own, and must have nutrition and water pumped into him; he cannot gag or swallow or make purposeful movements, and his brain functions are destroyed.

A Texas law allows the hospital to make the life-and-death call. The Children's Hospital of Austin invoked this state law and gave a 10-day notice to the family, citing that keeping Emilio alive is causing him to suffer without any medical benefit. READ MORE

FNC wants to know — do you think the parents or the hospital should decide Emilio's fate? E-mail us at and let us know what you think!

Here's What FOX Fans Are Saying:

"If the family and the lawyers want to keep the child alive by artificial means, they should be willing to pay the cost of doing so. I think there might be a change of heart if they, not the taxpayers through Medicaid, were responsible for keeping this dying child alive. The cost
of keeping a vegetative person alive is always a concern to both families and hospitals when making that awful decision. The fact that the taxpayers are footing the bill should not give the family the right to keep the child breathing for ever." — James

"It is the parents decision not the hospital. Who do they think they are. Stop trying to take peoples rights away from them." — Angela

"Such a tragedy, this story is. I can understand why the family refuses to let go of this precious baby boy, but he would be better off than laying there suffering. They need to think about him and not their self. We as parents are selfish in wanting them here with us but sometimes it is
best to let go and let them return home to God. Either way it is a hard thing to do. But I believe it should be the parents right to say when enough is enough not the hospital. We all need to pray for this baby boy and his family." — Patricia

"It's easy on the outside looking in to give an opinion. I think the real question is that if this was your baby son or daughter, would you feel the same as the mother in this case? If it were me, I would never give up and always hope for a miracle." — Robert

"Parents should have the final decision on any medical issues. However, with no apparent brain functions, the mother should be counseled, by people who know and care for her, that her son will never get better and he should be allowed to leave this life. Wanting something to be, doesn't always make it so. My heart goes out to her." — Koren

"So long as the parents are mentally capable of making such a decisions, it is theirs to make." — Cynthia

"This is every mother's nightmare. To see one's own child like this is heartbreaking and completely devastating. Any mother can understand her wanting to hold on and treasure every precious moment with her baby. I believe that she should have the right to choose when to remove the child from life support. The concerns of the hospital may be valid and maybe
there isn't anything further than can be done; however I don't believe that the hospital should have the authority to make the call - the decision should be left to the parents. The pain this mother is going through is unimaginable and since this mother is unable to have any more children, I
would hope that the hospital would be more accommodating and respect the mother wanting a little more time." — Kathy (Seattle, WA)

"The hospital should decide — the mother and family are too emotional to make this decision for the baby." — Manija

"This is a decision that should ultimately be left to God himself. The hospital should not decide that they don't see any point when the mother has cited that the baby does respond. Who are we to decide that someone else's life is not worth living?" — Jerry and Abigail

"The parents should definitely decide! This is a minor child. Only the parents (or guardians, in the absence of parents) should have any say in this matter." — Eileen

"These are heart breaking stories, and boils down to the approval of mercy killings — regardless if the OK is given by the parent or the hospital. It even gets more complicated when the media is involved, and now judgment is made by millions of readers/viewers. Does it have to come down to a vote, or is it something that a parent and hospital staff can agree upon? Emotions vs. Medical facts, baby sufferings vs. mother's emotions? It's very understandable that mom wants the baby around as long as possible, they have a bond. But, baby Emilio has no future." — Ed (Central Point, OR)

"Because of HIPA, no nurse or doctor can tell you what is really going on inside this Austin hospital. Only family can speak to you and they can create what ever type of evil picture of the hospital they want. The hospital cannot tell the social issues they are dealing with. What is really sad is that despite the doctors and nurses hard work and dedication they will be sued." — Anonymous

"I am a pediatric intensive care respiratory therapist, and we are faced with this decision everyday at the hospital in which I work. I am also a devote disciple of Jesus Christ and I fully understand the value of life — but at which point are we keeping a child alive or a body alive? If all upper brain function is gone ... then the child we loved is gone ... why prolong the inevitable? I am totally against euthanasia, but removing man-made support systems and allowing nature to take it's course is OK. I believe in the power of divine healing and if God want the child to live, he will without our mechanical interference." — Jeff (Killeen, TX)

"If you put this child down, he will turn into the next Schiavo." — Don (Muskegon, MI)

"A child is not a business decision. All life is precious, even an unresponsive life. Working and living with a dying person teaches us about the meaning of love and compassion, and the value of our own lives. Even suffering has a purpose and an effect on us, no matter how hard it is to take. When a person becomes an inventory item taking up a bed space then all hope for humanity is lost." — Jeanne

"Emilio's parents should make the decision." — Lula

"I am a mother and also a caregiver in a pediatric ER. I know children, and I know parents. After watching parents lose children to either chronic illnesses or unexpected circumstances, bottom line is that it's gut wrenching and heart breaking. I've also seen teenagers who have lived with life limiting illnesses since infancy ... their parents drag them to the ER whenever some alarm goes off on the pulse ox, or apnea monitor, or the feeding tube is clogged, or the catheter is infected. When you see the faces of parents of chronic kids, they are exhausted. Whatever fleeting joy is begotten from having their child alive is tempered by the sheer effort it has taken to keep the
kids going. The illness becomes the identity of the entire family and all occasions and every day revolves around who will care for the ill one and how any plans affect that child. My heart breaks for the Emilio's mother. I only hope she will see the best she can offer her son is the dignity and peace of letting go. No one will admire her any less as a mother and it will not make Emilio's life any less special." — Debra

"Having been in a similar situation just last week with my father, I have some understanding of the struggle of the family of little Emilio Gonzalez. Although he was terminal, my father wasn't dying due to his cancer, but from complications from the radiation and pneumonia. I don't have an opinion on whether or not the Texas law ought to be changed; however, I think each case has to be considered on a case-by-case basis. My father was conscious and completely aware of everything going on. To remove the breathing apparatus (an external respirator which wasn't breathing for him, only helping him) would have been like putting a pillow over his face to suffocate him. He died anyway with it on. If little Emilio cannot feel pain, and doesn't have the necessary brain function for him to even realize what's going on, should they turn off life support — then the hospital should have the authority to turn it off. But definitely not if he can feel pain or if he'll feel suffocation!" — Peggy

"I think the parents should make the call. God gave them the child, and when it is time for the baby to go home and be in heaven, then Jesus will make that call. Until then, I feel the parents have the right — It is their child, not the hospital's." — Amanda

"That should be up to the parents and God — I am sure that the hospital has got a huge bill at this point and no one who can possibly come up with that kind of money. The mother should be able to have her son here with her as long as possible, and no hospital should be able to tell her
any differently." — LaDonna

"When the 'taxpayers' are paying the bill, the responsible hospital staff should have the right to terminate extraordinary health care procedures once the parents/guardians demands become unreasonable and ignore the reality of an unrecoverable medical situation. There is no possibility of a conscious 'life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness'. Saying that, I believe the judge was fair in giving the parents a little more time to deal with this situation." — Edward

"Parents should decide, not corporations. Corporations have more rights in the US than the people, we have got to make a change." — D. Keith