The husband - ap pearing on NBC's "Dateline" to hawk his new tell-all tome - ac knowledges that even his now-new wife, who he was dating at the height of the controversy, urged him to give in to Terri's desperate right-to-life family and keep her on hospital machines.
But Schiavo says he refused to do so because "I wasn't going to let anybody stand in my way.
"You know, my parents, they raised me to be a fighter. And I was doing something that Terri wanted," says Michael Schiavo, with his wife, Jodi, by his side.
"I guess when it all boiled down, I couldn't understand why these people were so passionate about my life . . . People are allowed to die every day. Feeding tubes are removed every day," Schiavo says in the interview set to air Sunday.
The emotionally charged battle between Schiavo and his devoutly Catholic in-laws raged in the courts for years, finally culminating in the husband being allowed to remove his stricken wife's feeding tube. She died weeks later.
Schiavo insisted that Terri had made it clear before she mysteriously collapsed into a coma in 1990 that she wanted to die if she ended up being artificially kept alive on machines.
But her family angrily disputed his claim, asserted that her coma might one day be reversed - and even suggested that Schiavo may have had a hand in Terri's collapse.
An autopsy later revealed no evidence of abuse before Terri fell into the coma and that she was in a persistent vegetative state when she died.
Asked why he stayed technically married to Terri even though he was openly living with Jodi before his wife died, Schiavo said, "Why [did] I have to divorce Terri?
"Terri wasn't like a football . . . an inanimate object you pass back and forth. She was my wife. You mean, because your wife gets sick, do you give her back?"
Adds Jodi Schiavo: "That is one of the qualities in him that I so admire. That up against everything, he stuck by her."